Each of the four institutions has interpreted the Village Housing Concept in ways that are appropriate and complementary to their campus culture, architecture and design principles.
Wofford's Village appears to benefit appreciably for its faithfulness to the complete "Village Housing" model: each and every unit has its own patio and/or balcony, assuring the gradient of public and private spaces are consistently provided. There is also a variety of green spaces and these are provided in relative abundance. Outdoor activities are supported by grills, volleyball and bocce ball courts. Laundry and study rooms are close at hand.
In addition to the design features, an appropriate level of programming is well received for social activities and events. Students in various buildings and groups of buildings are motivated to take their own initiative in planning additional more impromptu events.
The number of negative comments in the several hundred written responses to the survey is almost zero. There are only a few remarks about the tension sensed between being "on-campus" or "off-campus" in this Village.
Birdsong Senior Residence Hall gets high marks for its central courtyard flanking the end-zone of school's football stadium. Campus engagement is guaranteed on game-days and students noted the usefulness of the balconies in bringing residents together every day.
Students noted some dissatisfaction with a number of management prohibitions which they felt hindered their casual engagement with other students, as well as the absence of study rooms. A few students noted dissatisfaction with the disconnection between the north and south wings of the building where the event space occurs, and were interested in greater availability of these common spaces for student use.
At Gateway Village, students were pleased with their proximity to the intramural fields as their community's neighbor and the sense of engagement with the campus that this activity brings. Students appreciated the study rooms and the pathways through the courtyards that help connect the residents both physically and socially.
While the Village is well-received overall, there was some expression of dissatisfaction with the absence of a dedicated outdoor space (porch or balcony) provided for each unit. The use of the outdoor spaces seems limited due to the landscape design and the lack of provision of outdoor furniture, diminishing students’ ratings of the community. Increased access to and availability of the common amenities, such as the event room, were also suggested.
The survey responses for the Station at Mill Point exude an overwhelmingly positive response to the intentional programming for "Life after Elon" that is designed to go with the community. In addition to career services, special events, activities, food trucks, and book clubs (among other things) are provided specifically for the residents. Amenities with the Station are enormously popular, including the Depot (commons spaces), fitness room, swimming pool, volleyball courts and grilling areas.
In contrast to the other communities, The Station is located near the campus, but is, in fact, off-campus. Students noted a greater sense of disconnection with the main campus, particularly as it regarded returning to campus after "coming home for the day." More than a few students seemed disappointed with this small level of disconnection, yet it did not diminish their overall satisfaction with the rich experience provided to them in the senior village.
American colleges and universities are vitally interested in the careful choreography of the undergraduate experience leading to a full and well-balanced life. This is true for the large research-oriented university, the small liberal arts college, and institutions of all dimensions in between. Our modest study of student satisfaction leads us to believe in the value of the Senior Village Concept as part of a well-conceived capstone experience for graduating seniors at the colleges and universities where we’ve designed for and implemented this inventive idea.
We now realize that this creative design concept embodies the mission, vision and core values of these learning communities by blending residential life into the curricular and co-curricular vitality of the campus as a whole. For a majority of graduating students, the Senior Village proves to be an excellent bridge between the academy and the marketplace.
Study Team Credits:
McMillan Pazdan Smith: Ron Smith, John Jacques, Travis McConkey, and Karen Calhoun
BCWH: Charles Piper and Charles Tilley