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A Renovation to Develop Community, Build Connections and Support Student Needs in The Southwest Residential Towers at The University of Massachusetts Amherst

In a time of increased admissions at State Colleges and Universities students are at risk for various concerning factors including decreased academic performance, feelings of isolation and alienation from faculty, staff and their peers, and other issues of mental health. Intentional architectural programming, primarily the public spaces within residence halls, can help to alleviate these issues for students and ensure that they are connected to their residential community not only academically but personally. This thesis will discuss how the increase in college admissions has affected residence hall communities and the personal development of students attending large academic institutions. It will analyze current residence hall spaces and propose a renovation for the Southwest Residential Area towers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst which house at least 580 students per tower. Issues of crowding, stress and over stimulation as a result of the built environment will be assessed and discussed to illuminate the need for renovation in the Southwest Residential Area towers, the largest halls on the UMass campus. The proposed renovation focuses on providing students who live in towers with public spaces that connect the community. This renovation reflects the original design intent of Hugh Stubbins, the complex’s architect, who designed the towers to consist of three vertically stacked houses. Each house, consisting of seven floors in the tower will be connected with a series of atria that feature small study and social spaces along their main circulation. The main public space floor of the residence hall, located at the center of the 7-floor vertically stacked house, will undergo the largest renovation of all the floors and will feature centralized service spaces such as mail, laundry and cooking facilities in addition to a large community gathering space and study spaces. The students’ personal spaces have also been renovated to maximize sunlight, reduce roommate viii conflicts, and provide personalized intermediary space that will architecturally draw students towards their public spaces.