Photo of Whatcom Community College Student Housing

Ⓒ Aaron Locke

Photo of Whatcom Community College Student Housing

Ⓒ Aaron Locke

Photo of Whatcom Community College Student Housing

Ⓒ Aaron Locke

Photo of Whatcom Community College Student Housing

Ⓒ Aaron Locke

Photo of Whatcom Community College Student Housing

Ⓒ Aaron Locke

Whatcom Community College Student Housing

Cultivating Community

For many people, especially international students, college is the first home away from home. Leaving behind your family, friends, hometown, even familiar foods can be hard. Interestingly, this effect often recurs later in life; our senior housing projects are explicitly designed to counteract similar feelings of social isolation and homesickness. But designing for new social support systems is really only possible by aligning thoughtful design with equally thoughtful programming and planning. When Whatcom Community College in Bellingham, WA, realized that their school needed on-campus student housing, they knew that staying competitive with other community colleges also meant establishing a successful student housing program. They didn’t simply need their first brick-and-mortar student housing, in other words. They needed to cultivate community. Our design concept for Cedar Hall began here.

...
Bellingham, Washington
COMPLETED IN 2020
  • 76 units, 233 beds
  • 4 stories
  • 145,833 sq. ft.
MARKET

Higher Education

DISCIPLINES

Architecture , Interiors

PROJECT TYPE

Student Housing

PROJECT CONTACT

Architecture: Omar Torres

Interiors: Christina Witteman

highered@ankrommoisan.com


Architecture Story

Student Housing that Brings People Together

Architecture Photo of Whatcom Community College Student Housing

Ⓒ Aaron Locke

Architecture Photo of Whatcom Community College Student Housing

Ⓒ Aaron Locke

Architecture Photo of Whatcom Community College Student Housing

Ⓒ Aaron Locke

Architecture Photo of Whatcom Community College Student Housing

Ⓒ Aaron Locke

Architecture Photo of Whatcom Community College Student Housing

Ⓒ Aaron Locke

Working as advisors as much as architects and designers, we knew that successful student housing for Whatcom Community College would need to be a unified, holistic effort—with student programs, architectural planning and thoughtful design all running together—that guides students toward each other and helps them reestablish lost support systems. We began with a public/private progressive design-build team, funded by state bonds, that comprised experts across industries. Architects, interior designers, landscape architects, outside design consultants, general contractors, estimators, and MEP contractors worked alongside Whatcom Community College leaders, the city of Bellingham, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Gathering design input from students, administrators, and the local community, we conducted workshops, online surveys, meet-and-greet booths, and one-on-one interviews. And so “cultivating community” became our design concept for Cedar Hall, Whatcom’s new student housing building. We designed the floorplan to intentionally bring students together. Impromptu spaces for interaction abound, from lounge areas between stairways that are great for reading, studying, and hanging out, to the building’s placement on the campus’ south edge, close to the transit station. The upper-level library, and the “grand stair” to it, face east toward Mount Baker and the Cascade Range. The communal heart of Whatcom Community College is the Pod, a double-height shed that glows like a beacon at night and encourages socialization and human connection. While we designed public spaces and circulation in Cedar Hall meant primarily for interaction, since Whatcom Community College is a school, we also designed opportunities for privacy and study. Students’ units are designed with side-by-side bedrooms facing a shared living room. This unusual unit layout is an outcome of the building’s overall shorter footprint, an intentional decision to maximize the site and hold space for future buildings. Above Cedar Hall’s entry door, three levels of study areas visually reveal the building’s program—from public social interaction to more private academic study. Finally, our honest, durable material design reflects Whatcom’s agricultural setting. Glulam beams thematically connect Cedar Hall’s exterior structure to its interior and bike shelter. Natural wood flooring runs throughout the building’s halls, shared amenities, and stairways; the exterior is clad with simple yet beautiful brickwork, wood, and metal. Our intention is that life at Cedar Hall should feel connected not only to each other, but to the city of Bellingham, Whatcom County, and the Pacific Northwest. This is a place where students can grow, develop, and thrive with each other.

...

Interior Story

Connecting Spaces

Architecture Photo of Whatcom Community College Student Housing

Ⓒ Aaron Locke

Architecture Photo of Whatcom Community College Student Housing

Ⓒ Aaron Locke

Architecture Photo of Whatcom Community College Student Housing

Ⓒ Aaron Locke

Architecture Photo of Whatcom Community College Student Housing

Ⓒ Aaron Locke

Architecture Photo of Whatcom Community College Student Housing

Ⓒ Aaron Locke

Knowing that college can go a long way toward replacing the social support systems that students often leave behind when they depart for school, our design team looked beyond physical design elements to answer students’ psychological needs through Cedar Hall, WCC’s first campus student housing. We began with a public/private progressive design-build team, funded by state bonds, made up of architects, interior designers, landscape architects, outside design consultants, general contractors, estimators, and MEP contractors working with WCC leaders, the city of Bellingham, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. After conducting a series of workshops, online surveys, meet-and-greet booths, and one-on-one interviews and incorporating input from the students, administrators, and local community, our team developed a design concept—”cultivating community”—that’s manifested in student housing where students will grow, develop, and thrive. Inside Cedar Hall, our spaces encourage spontaneous interactions. Lounge areas between stairs, for example, are designed as natural study and co-working zones. We used WCC’s small amenity space efficiently and effectively, with the community room designed to flexibly support community events, cooking classes, and clubs. Each unit serves students’ emotional desire to be together, balancing private with public life. The bedrooms are sized to provide essential privacy and to draw students out into their communal amenities and social spaces. Since WCC is surrounded by farmland, our design expression respects this context. Each floor’s colors subtly reference annual growing seasons. Our materials—warm, natural materials that are essentially true to themselves—also recall agriculture, with polished concrete and blackened steel on the fireplace.

...

SIMILAR PROJECTS

SEE MORE PROJECTS

EXPLORE MORE