Photo of M@ College

Ⓒ Chipper Hatter

Photo of M@ College

Ⓒ Chipper Hatter

Photo of M@ College

Ⓒ Chipper Hatter

Photo of M@ College

Ⓒ Chipper Hatter

Photo of M@ College

Ⓒ Chipper Hatter

Photo of M@ College

Ⓒ Chipper Hatter

M@ College

Student Housing that Fits In

Capstone Development Partners came to us with a complex design opportunity. Could we help fulfill San Diego State University’s need for dense student housing one block south of campus, in a neighborhood of single-family homes, while aesthetically and socially fitting in? Our key approach: Community outreach. By listening actively and carefully to project and community stakeholders, as well as local jurisdiction, we learned what the community needed and what concerned them about misaligned visual aesthetics, more traffic, and noise. With their input and ongoing collaboration throughout the project’s design phases, we refined its scale, outcomes, and aesthetic, and met both SDSU’s and the community’s needs. Our courtyard design for M@ College, provides a new student housing option of 327 beds in one-, two-, three-, and four-bedroom apartments, delivers on the school’s required density of units. Not only did our collaborative approach meet the project’s design outcomes, it delivers student housing that beautifully integrates with its surroundings.

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San Diego, California
COMPLETED IN 2018
  • 85 units / 327 beds
  • 7 (5 over 2) stories
  • 202,920 sq. ft.
MARKET

Higher Education

DISCIPLINES

Architecture

PROJECT TYPE

Student Housing

PROJECT CONTACT

Architecture: Brad Bane

Interiors: Alissa Brandt

highered@ankrommoisan.com


Architecture Story

Site Sensitive

Architecture Photo of M@ College

Ⓒ Chipper Hatter

Architecture Photo of M@ College

Ⓒ Chipper Hatter

Architecture Photo of M@ College

Ⓒ Chipper Hatter

Architecture Photo of M@ College

Ⓒ Chipper Hatter

Architecture Photo of M@ College

Ⓒ Chipper Hatter

Architecture Photo of M@ College

Ⓒ Chipper Hatter

After the community balked at the original design for M@ College, Capstone Development Partners contacted Ankrom Moisan to refine and get it built. Under tight deadlines, we reimagined dense student housing that’s programmatically and aesthetically sensitive to the adjacent single-family residences. Our role was to design a project that would work for everyone involved. On the one hand, SDSU needed student housing close to campus. On the other, neighborhood residents were concerned about noise, mismatched aesthetics, and more traffic. To tackle these complex requirements, we began by gathering input from community members, the city of San Diego, and SDSU project stakeholders. Initially, the neighborhood guidelines stipulated a Spanish Colonial style akin to other campus buildings at SDSU. Throughout our public outreach, we discovered that the neighborhood actually wanted a more modern architectural style. Not only did we revise our exterior design and color palette, we revised the project’s overall scale, by removing units from the top floors, situating the taller side toward the campus and the shorter side to the neighborhood (which had the further benefit of bringing more sunlight into the shared courtyard). To minimize vehicular traffic, we added more bike parking and car-share access—especially useful to the student residents, given the site’s proximity to campus—and the lobby and entrance faces campus, encouraging walking. One of the project’s biggest challenges was dealing with a steep slope. The building’s overall form arose from our intense work with the city of San Diego to match the building to its steeply graded site. Our solution, a stepped podium design, let us contour the building to the slope, and it kept costs down by using less concrete and concentrating on wood-frame construction. The other big challenge was minimizing the overall scale, integrating it among the single-family homes. By strategically breaking down the building’s scale and manipulating subtle projections through pop-outs that create depth and articulation in the facade, we succeeded in making the building more approachable to pedestrians, especially along the front. Also, using two analogous colors of beige for the stucco breaks down the mass of the building; accent colors further break down the scale and group the window openings together. To inspire moments of personal interaction, we designed the entryway to resemble a front porch. Inside, we created even more opportunities for students to gather, to interact with each other and activities in a way that suits them best. We focused much of our attention on the main community amenity—the kitchen and living room—which, again, was challenging on a steep slope. Visitors enter the main amenity one level lower than the main entry level, an unusual solution that connects people to the courtyard and pool through the entry lobby. To buffer the surrounding neighborhood from noise, our layout focuses the student community internally, around this central courtyard. Study and gaming spaces, study pods, a pool table, and a fitness room are just off the main community room. And answering a growing trend in student housing, reservable study rooms on every floor await more focused study, away from the main common area. With the pared-down scale of its massing and California contemporary exterior aesthetic, M@ College fits easily among the surrounding family homes. It’s a place where students and their community can readily, and respectfully, connect with each other.

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Interior Story

Functional Yet Fun

Architecture Photo of M@ College

Ⓒ Chipper Hatter

Architecture Photo of M@ College

Ⓒ Chipper Hatter

Architecture Photo of M@ College

Ⓒ Chipper Hatter

Architecture Photo of M@ College

Ⓒ Chipper Hatter

Architecture Photo of M@ College

Ⓒ Chipper Hatter

Architecture Photo of M@ College

Ⓒ Chipper Hatter

Our overall design idea for M@ College was durable, cost-effective choices that are playful, fun, and unexpected, and profoundly influenced by its location as much as these functions. One block south of the San Diego State University campus on a slope, among neighborhood residences, its specific site presented both design challenges and ready opportunities. Early in our collaborative engagement with campus and community stakeholders, we discovered that SDSU’s established aesthetic, a traditional Spanish Colonial style, was off the table; neighbors actually wanted a more future-leaning California contemporary style. This gave us the opportunity to shift our color and material palette, introducing pops of color that are accentuated by a dominant (yet subdued) background of earth tones. Taking inspiration from San Diego’s seaside cliffs—which students frequently climb down to surf some of California’s best waves—our design for the wooden main stairs zigzags as it descends, giving peeks of a community room wallpapered in an abstract wave pattern, before orienting visitors to the open courtyard-slash-community space. Here, our place-inspired design aesthetic serves further design functions. Acoustic baffles on the ceiling, arranged in a wave pattern, suppress the noise of gatherings from the rest of the neighborhood. Patterns continue on the flooring, with variations in concrete slab, carpeting, and LVP that break up the large space with interesting shapes. All of the one-, two-, three, and four-bedroom apartment units have plenty of access to daylight, with views facing the central courtyard or out to the neighborhood. Our simple yet tasteful design is, again, durable, able to stand up to heavy student use throughout the year. To keep students’ rooms from feeling enclosed, we maintained as much ceiling height as possible with intentionally clean lines; almost every bedroom has a dedicated bathroom and stainless finishes, and some have full-sized kitchens. These rooms are students’ homes away from home, and we designed them as such. Of course, student life at SDSU isn’t all study. One of our most site-specific design solutions at M@ College is the one that caters to what many students here love: a surfboard wash and storage station, so residents don’t have to keep their boards in their rooms. Extremely functional, highly informed by our primary users, and very Southern California.

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