Student Housing Business

JAN-FEB 2018

Student Housing Business is the voice of the student housing industry.

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Page 38 of 88

VIE W FROM THE ACADEME January/February 2018 38 Bringing Plans to Life Marquette University is beginning to see changes to its student housing as a far-reaching master plan starts to become a reality. Interview by Randall Shearin M Marquette University is situated just east of Milwaukee's central business district. The campus has the unique proposition of blend- ing the CBD with the residential neighbor- hoods nearby; the campus strives to blend into the fabrics of both surrounding areas. Having developed a master plan for its campus over the past few years, Marquette is beginning to enact some of the development called for in the plan, including new student housing. SHB recently interviewed Lora Strigens, vice president for planning and strategy, and Mary Janz, executive director of housing and resi- dential life at Marquette University, to find out more about the university's plans overall, and for new housing specifically. SHB: How much housing do you have at Marquette University? Janz: Marquette recently purchased an apart- ment building new to the university that we will bring under the university's control. We are already leasing that for the next academic year. With that, we are close to housing about 5,100 students through our residence halls and university-owned apartments. Beyond hous- ing, there are a number of apartment proper- ties within a three-block radius of campus that are privately owned that provide housing for students. Those probably accommodate anoth- er 2,500 to 3,000 students. Our campus is pretty densely populated. SHB: Is there a requirement to live on campus? Janz: First and second year students must live in the residence halls. They have the option to live thereafter in the near-campus neighbor- hood. Our office of residence life partners with local landlords and property managers for housing. We do get involved when there are landlord-tenant issues. Most of our students prefer to live on campus. It is less complicated for them, and there is an impression that they are safer on campus versus in the near campus neighborhood; that may or may not be true. SHB: What is the state of your on-campus housing at Marquette? Do you have any plans for new housing? Strigens: Our campus is interesting because we have a variety of housing types and ages. That has to do, in part, with the fact that some of our residence halls were built specifically as stu- dent housing while others had a differ- ent original use. We are located in an urban environment so the university has acquired, over time, buildings that we have converted to residence halls. We have a nice mix in our housing stock. Our most recently con- structed residence hall — constructed for that purpose — was McCormick Hall, built in 1968. It has been some time since we set out to build a residence hall from the ground up, rather than through acquisition and renovation. The university engaged in a comprehensive master planning effort, which wrapped in fall 2016. That master plan process identified all of the physical needs for our campus for the next 10 to 20 years. One of the primary elements of that plan is around our needs for student life, not just housing, but all of the different types of facilities that relate to student experi- ence. We looked at what opportunities exist to make it more appealing for students to live on campus for both our lower and upper divi- sion students. We examined our aging housing stock to make determinations about wheth- er to continue to invest in those facilities or whether to replace them. That was how we arrived at the decision to move forward with Wild Commons. SHB: Can you tell us about the new Wild Commons project? Strigens: Wild Commons will be the first major capital project emerging from our master plan. We are proud that our first major capital proj- ect out of the gate will be one that focuses specifically on impacting students and their experience here on campus. The project broke ground in November 2016 and will be com- plete in time for fall 2018 occupancy. It has 890 beds and has fantastic first and second floor shared space that houses a common dining facility serv- ing our entire cam- pus. Two building towers sit on the common building plinth, which sur- rounds a new cam- pus green space. Janz: As men- tioned, we had acquired a num- ber of buildings over many years that were converted to student housing. These include a hotel and an apartment building that we converted to housing. When designing the new residence halls, we were focused on com- munity; we wanted to create living rooms in our properties versus just having lounges. We focus on how our students will get to know one another, reducing anonymity when you plunk 750 students in a 1960s-era building. That really aids a lot in the student experience. Then you add all of the other components — like music and dance practice space, smart classrooms and kitchens and living rooms in the halls — and it makes it much more appeal- ing to today's students. SHB: When you sat down to envision this proj- ect, how did you find what students want in a residence hall? Janz: Prior to starting this process, we had entered into an arrangement with Hanbury (architecture firm), who helped us with a hous- ing feasibility study. That gave us a lot of information so we did not have to reinvent the wheel. There have been focus groups with students and we met with our residence hall association and our neighbors. From my per- spective, there was a good foundation to move this project along quickly. Strigens: We had a great planning and vision- ing process during the creation of our mas- MARY JANZ Executive Director of Housing and Residential Life, Marquette University LORA STRIGENS Vice President for Planning and Strategy, Marquette University

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