Georgia's Young Harris College just unveiled The Towers - an innovative dorm designed by Lord Aeck Sargent that is organized around 'Pods' with dorm rooms surrounding a common living space and shared bathrooms. The idea is to get students out of their private rooms to socialize with their new classmates and help them feel less alone and more part of a community. In addition, the dorm was designed to achieve LEED certification and features daylighting, local materials and energy-efficient design.
Young Harris College is a small college in northeast Georgia that made a transition from a 2-year college to a 4-year institution in about six years ago. To accommodate new students, the college had to build new housing for both upper and lower classmen. Lord Aeck Sargent has designed two other housing projects and they designed The Towers specifically for incoming freshman who just transitioned away from their family and are now living independently. The dorm was engineered to minimize feelings of isolation, loneliness or even intimidation, and to get students out and socializing with their peers. “The way the pods are designed, with easy access to shared living spaced adjacent to the bedrooms, encourages students to interact socially with others their age who are taking a lot of the same basic core courses, helping them to acclimate to college life,” said Jackson Kane, a student housing specialist at LAS. “It encourages them to want to matriculate through all four years of college by discouraging isolating behaviors from the very beginning.”
The Towers is split into three towers – A, B, C and each floor in the tower is a ‘Pod’ with 11 or 12-double occupancy floors around a common living room and two community bathrooms. The individual rooms are relatively small so they encourage students to get out of the private space into the bright and open shared space that serves as a giant living and meeting room complete with sofas, tables and large flat screen tvs. The bathrooms are more upscale than your typical dorm and feature ‘luxury’ materials like granite countertops, louvered wooden doors on the toilet stalls, and subway tile that make it feel more like a spa.
Lord Aeck Sargent worked to make the dorm more energy-efficient and sustainable in order to achieve LEED certification. To reduce energy use, the building makes use of a hydronic heat pump HVAC system with energy recovery, extensive daylighting in the common areas, energy-efficient lighting and motion sensors. The project was built with local materials like Tennessee flagstone, wood, drywall, vinyl tile flooring planks and carpeting.
Images ©Jonathan Hillyer