The concept of integrating residential living with academic learning evolved at Cambridge and Oxford, where the academic “house” was instrumental to residential life and academic pedagogy. The idea however is seeing a renewal at a time when colleges and universities are trying to distinguish their on-campus experiences from on-line learning and the off-campus apartment.
“Living learning communities (or LLCs) focus on curricula that are tailored to add value to the academic experience. Millennials are looking for collaborative, open environments, and LLCs provide a unique on-campus opportunity,” says Perkins+Will Associate Principal David Damon, AIA, LEED AP. “At Bridgewater State, we’ve redefined the spatial organization and transparency of this concept.”
As part of the living and learning experience, a net zero energy study was undertaken to raise the bar of sustainability on campus and in the state system. The project ultimately focused its energy savings on a geo-exchange system, hot water recapture and solar panels for photovoltaics. Even small changes like removing the mini-fridges and microwave from student rooms in lieu of shared appliances are making significant savings on the building’s energy usage – and making a behavioral shift for student lifestyles.
"For us sustainability is essential," says Edward Adelman, Executive Director of the Massachusetts State College Building Authority. "Efficient buildings not only reduce resource consumption and emissions, but cost less to operate. This, in turn, reduces the long term cost of ownership and future student rent increases due to utility prices. The zero net energy study helped to identify ways in which we could design and operate the building to reduce energy consumption."
In addition to its progressive design and commitment to sustainability, the ground level surrounds the courtyard with the campus-wide healthcare and counseling center, the educational outreach center for students and the broader community to meet on topics of interest, and a significant recreational and collaboration space for students to gather and socialize.
“What’s special is that the residence life staff wanted to integrate a learning environment into the living arrangement – single and double beds but with seminar and meeting spaces within the building for them to collaborate on a class, or a cultural group or social action,” says Beth Moriarty, Director of Residence Life and Housing at Bridgewater State University. “This is definitely a growing trend – more integration between the classroom and the residence hall.”
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