OU students discussed current concerns and new ideas for freshman housing with architects designing the next phase of on-campus residence halls at a meeting Monday.
At the Housing Center Student Association’s weekly 7:30 p.m. meeting in the Couch Storm Shelter, students shared their ideas for residence hall lounges and study areas, including the need for more space. flexible, lots of natural lighting and design, better community kitchens, gender-neutral spaces, and upgrades to suite or community style bathrooms.
At a 2021 Board of Regents meeting, OU President Joseph Harroz Jr. announced the administration’s plan to replace the residential towers located on South Campus. The goal of the project is to update housing to better engage first-year students in hopes of increasing retention rates. The first step will be to demolish one of the current freshman housing buildings, and the first new building is expected to be constructed by 2025.
Merrilee Hertlein, Principal Architect at Mackey Mitchell Architects, and Robert Meek, Architect of the Architectural Design Group, who are both designing OU’s freshman housing, formulated two activities where students shared their ideas. In the first activity, students placed red or green dots on pictures of drawings they liked or disliked. The next activity was an open discussion about what students generally liked or disliked about their residence halls.
“(We) are really trying to get a deep understanding of what makes halls of residence really great, what makes them not so great, and how we can use design to really create a cohesive community within the halls of residence. academic,” Hertlein said at the meeting.
Students also advocated for open and closed study rooms, more laundry options, more personal mailboxes and better ways to communicate with fellow residents, such as a chalkboard hanging in the hallway.
Wink Winkle, president of the HCSA, said in an interview with The Daily that the meeting was extremely beneficial for the students in attendance.
“I think it’s really important to me to have these conversations and to have real students who currently live here give their input, as well as upper class students and people who are sort of allies of HCSA who care a lot about housing and know a little more about it. pretty much like how it works long term,” Winkle said.
Not only did the students benefit from sharing their opinions at the meeting, Hertlein said it benefited the design and architecture teams as they began working on designs for the interior and exterior spaces of first year housing.
“There are things we know because we’ve done it 50 times, but things always change,” Hertlein said in an interview with The Daily. “Getting that kind of information about things like bathrooms, which seemed like such a generic kind of thing in a building, is really important to help us design and make sure we’re creating a space that students go to. be comfortable. It’s going to be really helpful and (will) attract the next generation of OU students.