This is not your parents’ college dorm. Gone are the child-sized bunk beds, the dismal trudge to the shared showers down the hall, and the trials of cooking dinner in a contraband hot pot. This is the kind of student housing that will make you want to go back to school.
This new $35 million residence hall designed by LS3P accommodates 400 students in 2, 3, and 4 bedroom apartment-style suites. Anthony McAlister, founder and owner of McAlister Development Company, was determined to complete the project in time for the fall semester. McAlister has a successful history with fast-track projects, and this one was no exception. With a start date of August 20, 2012 and a completion date of August 9, 2013, the construction process took just under a year.
It wasn’t easy. The college’s request for a 400 student housing project within walking distance of campus presented limited site options. The building needed to be sensitive to neighbors, transition gracefully between historic architecture and the modern aesthetic required for student life, and lend itself to a fast-paced construction schedule. LS3P, with a rich portfolio of higher education, commercial, and other diverse projects, was undaunted by the challenge. The site presented exciting opportunities, and state-of-the art BIM software enabled the team to produce a working drawing set in 3 months.
Cooperation between the City of Charleston, the developer, the contractor and architect was critical to the success of the process. The tight design phase included extensive collaboration with City of Charleston Board of Architectural Review (BAR). Holder Construction, the Atlanta-based general contractor, was a key player in the fast-track process. Holder streamlined the construction with constant communication, scheduling weekly planning meetings for coordination of all team members. The team anticipated and avoided construction delays through the heavy use of iPads, providing subcontractors easy access to the digital model and the detailed drawings on site.
The 8-story, 195,000 SF design is human-scaled, with a subtle color palette taking its cues from historic campus details such as the shutters of Randolph Hall. LS3P divided the mass of the building into residential-sized segments with varying heights, planes, and materials for visual interest. The site design, created by DesignWorks LLC of Charleston, provides a variety of spaces for students in this sheltered space, resulting in a building which meets the needs of an expanding student population while respecting its historic neighborhood context.
For the lucky 400, these apartments provide support for, and relief from, the demands of academic life. Fully-furnished private rooms with full-sized beds open into shared living and full kitchen areas including not only washers and dryers, but also flat-screen televisions and high-speed internet access, close to an in-house 18,000 SF ground-floor fitness center.