Share your designs with at least one stakeholder. What was their response?
I have been meeting with Michael VanFossen, Senior Associate Director of Student Housing and Capital Planning/Project Management. He has been very receptive to my feedback about making the common lounges in Hoskins more fun (games), modern (new furniture and TV), and lively for residents (more interaction spaces such as clusters of tables for group meetings). Many of these changes are currently being implemented in McFarland, a midrise couples residence that has a very similar layout of the common area to Hoskins. Michael gave me a tour of the renovations occurring in McFarland last week which gave me a chance to see what changes are in store and give feedback based off what I’ve learned from Hoskins residences and the design I’ve envisioned.
- Lighting – many Hoskins residents complain about the lack of adjustable lighting in the common area as a deterrent to their using the space. The McFarland renovations also point to only ceiling lights being planned currently, to which I suggested adding dimmers and also adding floor lamps or desk lamps which people can adjust as necessary based off their needs. Increasing a user’s flexibility of engaging with the space is a design principle we’ve seen across many of our site visits. Michael liked this idea.
- Furniture – the new furniture in McFarland is certainly more modern than the one being used in Hoskins, and certain sections of the sofa can be moved around, but the furniture was still bulkier and more difficult to adjust than I would have hoped. I gave this feedback to Michael and suggested that maybe they could find some furniture with wheels attached for ease of adjusting the space, but Michael explained that they also have to make sure the furniture is not so easily moveable that residents can just move it outside or up to their own room!
- Music – I think music can really change up the ambiance of the space, and I suggested adding ipod docking stations and speakers to the main lounge rooms so that people can bring their own music and personalize the space even more. This would be especially useful in certain rooms where there was a lot of noise from the HVAC system (game room of McFarland but also relevant for the future game room in Hoskins which is next to the loud laundry room). Michael liked this idea, but also said they’d have to find a good way to securely mount it to the wall so that residents don’t take it up to their room.
- Signage – we’ve seen across site visits that signs can be used to give both instructions (in the museum) as well as set the overall tone and attitude of a space (d.school). I suggested that fun signage be used in the common lounges to create a fun and social vibe to the space. I think signage can be especially helpful in rooms where new furniture or a new coat of paint don’t quite cover up the ugly parts of the space (i.e. the game room of McFarland has pipes running across the ceiling). At first Michael didn’t understand this idea, but when I explained how signage is used at the d.school to create a certain can-do mindset (i.e. the “There is only make” sign), he got it and said it would be a simple fun way to enhance the space.
- Privacy – part of the renovations for McFarland and what’s planned for Hoskins is to significantly open up the common space (i.e. ripping down entire walls) to create a more open, lively space but this also hinders the privacy of rooms on the first floor right next to the common space. I suggested that walls separating the common space and individual resident rooms be maintained, with the new common areas blending more into the old common space (which still opens up the old space) rather than the hallways (which imposes privacy issues on first floor residents). Michael agreed with this and said they would reconsider this design feature.
- Misguided use of social spaces (??) – social spaces (small plasma TV, tables & chairs) are being added to the laundry room of McFarland, and same is the plan for Hoskins. I questioned Michael whether resources were being used wisely here and he responded that some people like to stay with their laundry while it’s being cleaned to make sure it doesn’t get stolen. I have never heard this from residents in Hoskins before and wonder if it is more of a need relevant in singles housing (the idea seemed to originate from the redesign of Quillen, a singles highrise) since people live alone anyway and would foreseeably just work in the laundry room as their cycle is being completed.