Cura personalis aims to develop a more focused student than the stereotypical American college student, so we centered our design on the student experience: To engage through active, community-led collaborative spaces; to support reflection through simple, sustainable materials and balanced, thoughtful design expressions; and to inspire.
Our design research began by studying the Jesuit style of teaching. In this tradition, we learned, after a person takes some action, they should reflect upon it. Thus our strongly student-focused design concept creates the study spaces so critical to this cyclical pattern of act, reflect, evaluate, and act again.
Meeting Seattle University’s specific Housing and Residence Life goals, our team meticulously developed a program to accommodate 286 beds. Student lounges on each floor are perfect for both private study and group gatherings. Each residence is tailored for efficiency, from studio to four-bedroom, and include modern built-ins and modular kitchens while maximizing natural ventilation and daylight. Throughout Vi Hilbert Hall, durable and natural materials—wood, concrete, brick, steel—warmly balance more modern design elements.
Because Vi Hilbert Hall is at the center of so much pedestrian activity—notably, the bookstore and financial aid offices are nearby—we designed the ground-floor lounge as an easy-to-navigate, open, inviting space for resident and commuter students, staff, and visitors. Inside the lobby stands a memorial to Vi Hilbert, the building’s namesake and tribal elder of the Upper Skagit tribe, last heritage speaker of Lushootseed, and teacher-conservationist of her native language. A grand staircase, wrapped in durable and warm-toned hickory, draws the eye upward to an open balcony. The warmth and subtle tones of this space reflects the school colors and feels bright, comfortable, and homey, especially at night. On the top floor, a big, open kitchen provides a gathering space for the community to come together to cook, dine, and socialize.
Virtual reality was an essential tool to help us efficiently solve problems. Mocking up materials selections in VR models took a little longer than traditional presentations, but by virtually walking client stakeholders through our design, we were able to much more quickly and completely refine our designs.
We are proud to provide housing to a school whose mission is dedicated to empowering leaders for a more just and humane world.