College Planning & Management

MAY 2013

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LIVING ON CAMPUS expensive, which may be explained by the fact that they provide more space per student than the smaller ones and considerably more (107 sq. ft. per student) than do the largest residence halls. Larger residence halls (12 reported) house more than 500 students each, with the median at 696 beds. The largest reported this year was designed to house 1,200 students. The median space for the 12 large residence halls was just 272 sq. ft. per bed. Cost per student was $58,351, far lower than the smaller residences. These larger projects ranged in total cost from $23M to $88M. The fact that their cost per square foot was lower than the small- or medium-sized residences is an indication that these larger projects probably were built in less expensive regions of the nation, since square-foot costs reflect local and regional costs more often than they reflect construction detail decisions. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION This thought is borne out when one looks at the cost per square foot depending on where the college was located. Those on the west and east coasts are in relatively high-cost construction zones while those in the southeast and southwest are in lower-cost areas. Does the location of the college have an effect on the cost of residence halls? To examine this, we divided the reporting colleges roughly into five regions of the nation. Fourteen were located along the east coast, ranging from Maine to North Carolina. Eleven were in the Southeast (basically Florida, Georgia, and the surrounding states). Another seven are in the Midwest — including the traditional Big Ten states — and four are in the Southwest; Texas and Louisiana. The other four were evenly split between California and Oregon — the West. As expected, it costs more to build on the west coast than anywhere else (almost $97,000 per bed; $284 per sq. ft.) but the size of the sample is too small for comfort. California colleges are doing a great deal of building, but are apparently reluctant to share their information. 22 Along the east coast, the median residence hall cost $31.1M, or $61,439 per student and $210.91 per square foot. These residences provided 315 sq. ft. per student, below the national average. In terms of costs, colleges in the Midwest were very similar to those along the east coast ($210.68 per sq. ft.) but they tended to provide more space per bed. That probably accounts for the slightly higher median cost. In the Southeast, on the other hand, the median project cost just $26.6M and $57,650 per student. Median cost for construction in this region is significantly lower (163.91 per sq. ft.), which allows them to provide more space per student, whether that is in the accommodations or support facilities. Construction costs in Texas and Louisiana are lower still (just $131.82 per sq. ft.) and the reporting colleges also kept their costs lower by providing less space per student than those in the rest of the nation. PUBLIC AND PRIVATE Eight private colleges provided information for this study, compared to 32 public colleges. The private colleges tended to construct smaller residence halls and, therefore, obviously, they cost less ($13.2M, compared to $31.1M among public colleges) and were physically smaller (81,134 sq. ft. was the median size of the private college residence halls; the median public residence was almost twice that size). In terms of cost per student, the private colleges reporting this year spent less but they provided considerably more space (387 sq. ft. per student, compared to 325). Judging by construction costs ($166.56 per sq. ft. compared to $212.81 for public colleges), they were also either located more often in low-spending areas of the nation or, perhaps, were subject to fewer restrictions than publicly funded colleges. AMENITIES Table 2 (on page 24) takes a look at some of the amenities provided in residence halls nationally, by size, by region, and by gover- COLLEGE PLANNING & MANAGEMENT / MAY 2013 nance. We queried colleges about 12 possible amenities (spaces or services provided in addition to residence rooms). Previously we had also asked about laundry facilities, kitchens for student use, vending machines, and air conditioning, but found that they were included in virtually every project. To save space and time, we eliminated these to concentrate on those amenities that have shown change in availability over the years. As an example, when we asked about fitness rooms and ATMs 10 years ago, both were rare. Today, 35 percent of new residence halls include some sort of fitness room and 17.5 percent include ATMs. Ten years ago, we sought a way to ask about whether residence halls were providing infrastructure for computer use. A few were. Today we simply ask if wireless networking is available, and the answer is yes, in virtually every project. We'll drop that question in the future. What other spaces can we expect to see included in future residence halls? (Faculty offices, multipurpose rooms, outdoor recreation and gathering spaces, and parking have been mentioned in a number of places. This year, a lactation room was mentioned in a residence for graduate students.) Towards the end of the last century, the concept of "living/learning" spaces was being written about as a coming new trend. Colleges were designing classrooms into their residence halls, offering students, in some cases, a chance to spend almost their entire academic life in their residence hall. This year, 55 percent of residence halls include some classroom space. Use of cards, rather than keys, to permit access to buildings is becoming almost standard, except in the smaller residence halls, where less than half provide this convenience. There is less use of key cards for rooms, but 38 percent of the projects now use them. One would think that most students would desire having a card that cannot be duplicated. Cost may be a factor in why they are not more widely installed. Video surveillance as a security measure can be controversial. When we first started asking about this feature, we did WWW.PLANNING 4EDUCATION.COM

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