When Baylor University drafted a guiding vision for development and growth, one of their imperatives was to make a truly residential campus. Ultimately their goal is to have 50 percent of the student body living on campus, which will mean drastically increasing not only the available beds but the residential infrastructure of the campus as a whole. The East Village Student Residences provide not just a place for students to live and sleep, but a place that supports intellectual and interpersonal connections between students and their campus community.
Researchers have long observed the positive correlation between campus residential rates and student persistence. Students who live on campus are immersed in the culture, drawn into social and intramural traditions, surrounded by fellow scholars. They are within easy reach of libraries and labs, and they are subject to residential policies that support engagement and safety.
A college freshman lands in a whole new world of competing priorities. Without parents around to enforce curfews, chores, and study hours, these young adults must decide for themselves how to spend their time, money, and energy. Being surrounded by their peers on campus, institutional values are reinforced to help young adults make the most of their education and transition into adulthood.
Baylor’s master plan called for heavy reactivation on the east side of campus. East Village would play a major role in opening up the Baylor terrain, drawing student traffic to the very edges of the grounds. With them the students would carry a community of learning, extending the values of the university to the boundaries of the campus and beyond.
The students played a major role in the planning of East Village, participating in workshops and meetings hosted by Overland. University administration and the Overland team paid careful attention to the requests of potential residents, as well as recent evolution in student housing solutions.
The final design yielded 701 new beds, a major leap toward Baylor’s residential goals. Student feedback indicated that variety would increase the likelihood that they would choose to live on campus. From dormitory style halls with shared bathrooms and common rooms for freshmen looking to meet a wide variety of people, to self-contained apartments for seniors maximizing their independence, the campus residences needed to accommodate the social development of the student population.
Live-learn schemes are another innovation in campus housing, aimed at increasing the compatibility between students’ role as scholars and their social choices. Baylor hosted a competition among the departments to see which could envision the most compelling live-learn scenario for a residence hall. The winners, Computer Science and Engineering, will have learning halls where faculty-in-residence and students are clustered together to foster extracurricular learning and collaboration.
Overland also wanted East Village to have a city center atmosphere, echoing the neo-Georgian aesthetic of the campus in a fresh, contemporary way. They placed the residences close to the street and increased the density to generate the buzz of an urban context. With dining services, the engineering school, and the business school nearby, east campus will feel like a modern live-work-play development.
Signature green spaces like quads and lawns and the dining commons make the development more hospitable. Residents can host their off-campus peers for meals, social activities, and study sessions, further activating campus as a center for student life. By bringing best practices in urban housing to a stately university campus, the project stands at the confluence of tradition and innovation.