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Higher Ed Architect: Residence Halls Should Add Gaming Spaces

A rendering of the gaming space at the University of Colorado Boulder Williams Village East residence hall

A rendering of the gaming space at the University of Colorado Boulder Williams Village East residence hall. Source: KWK Architects

Forget about lazy rivers or robotic meal delivery. Now, if the residence halls lack an esports gaming space, according to one architectural firm, students could feel deprived.

"Everything has evolved toward high-tech in today's learning environments, and student housing must keep pace," said KWK Architects Principal Javier Esteban, in a statement. "Majors have been created with gaming theory and design in mind, and scholarships are offered to student athletes who excel at esports."

According to Esteban, with esports evolving into an alternative to the school football team, student housing needs to address both casual and avid gamers' needs.

"It's important to keep students engaged with each other," said Esteban. "So, today's housing space has to offer communal areas where gamers can join forces to experience play and establish connections with others. Those common areas need to be developed alongside thoughtfully designed individual living spaces."

The focus is on connectivity and modularity. First, advised Esteban, common areas and student rooms will require high-speed internet service, reliable WiFi and an absence of "dead spots" in coverage. Also essential: numerous electrical outlets and USB ports in both common areas and student rooms.

Second, added KWK Architect Interior Designer Megan Bogener, "Comfortable and easily movable furniture is essential." As she explained, "Whether it's for gaming or for studying together, students want to be able to form pods with their sofas and chairs, adjust walls to right-size their space and plug in or charge up wherever they are playing or studying."

The gaming space itself should "ideally" include large-screen, wall-mounted monitors and a way for students to darken the environment.

The gaming area at the University of Colorado Boulder's new Williams Village East residence hall

The gaming area at the University of Colorado Boulder's new Williams Village East residence hall. Source: University of Colorado Boulder

One example is the University of Colorado Boulder, where the Williams Village East residence hall opened in the fall with gaming gear (and sustainable amenities that could earn it LEED Platinum certification). The space, designed by experts at both KWK and alm2s, includes a first-floor gaming area with a wall-mounted display hooked up to a Sony PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch. A sectional sofa surrounding the display can be reconfigured. For those who prefer their games in analog form rather than digital, there's a ping-pong table and a pool table. The residence hall accommodates 700 students, primarily freshmen, in a 178,000 square-foot structure.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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