The Suites at University Park
California State University, Northridge
California State University, Northridge (CSUN) built a 400-bed facility specifically designed as freshman-engagement housing for a campus that previously had only apartment-style housing. Statistically significant results from a behavioral post-occupancy study show that, compared with campus apartment residents, 1st-year students living in the new cluster-style, freshman-engagement housing have higher Academic, Personal/Emotional, and Overall adjustment scores on an adaptation-to-college assessment.
First-year college students are more likely to drop out of school: they face the greatest challenges and are least prepared to meet them. Based on national research showing that students’ experiences in campus housing are key to retention, the new "Suites" cluster-style housing at CSUN was designed to promote students’ engagement and adjustment to college by encouraging friendship formation and supporting the development of social bonds. Small communities of 32 students and a Resident Assistant share a semi-private wing within the larger residence hall. Double bedrooms are grouped around a "living room" which serves as the cluster’s own informal gathering place.
The freshman housing at CSU Northridge is organized around a single goal: to have freshmen see and be seen in a comfortable and familiar setting. The Suites at University Park is a gradually-scaled social setting that allows first-year students to adapt to the university experience. The site design promotes interaction by focusing entrances and activities around a central outdoor space that gives the Suites its own sense of community. The courtyard concentrates activity and energy inward, while keeping visual and physical connections to pathways, dining, parking, pool and campus shuttle as well as the surrounding on-campus apartment buildings.