Opening in 2016, Wassaja Hall is the newest residence hall in UIUC's revitalized Ikenberry Commons neighborhood. It is the result of a strategic plan completed by Mackey Mitchell and partner firm FGM to provide a reinvestment and renovation framework for aging, outdated housing facilities. The plan provides for the unique needs of today's students - encouraging inclusivity, diversity, and accessibility like never before. The new $67.2 million hall provides 504 beds, and amenities include community kitchens, a gaming area and music practice room. Each floor features lounges and studies of various sizes and layouts, accommodating the myriad levels of student introversion/extroversion. The design team engaged students to help inform the interiors, resulting in a dynamic color palette unique to each floor. The bright accent walls, furniture, textiles, and patterns found throughout encourage the sense of community for residents.
Wassaja Hall was thoughtfully designed to offer the highest levels of accessibility and inclusion possible, reflecting the emerging priorities of today's students. The building goes above and beyond ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) guidelines, not only making daily life easier for disabled students but allowing true individuality, outside of disability, to shine through. As part of a larger campus initiative the hall features a unit type with a Sure Hands mobility system for a severely disabled student. The project features gender-inclusive rooms, single-user bathrooms on each floor, and bedrooms arranged in a pod-type configuration, offering a community-oriented experience.
Wassaja Hall is named after the university's first Native American graduate and accomplished advocate for Native American rights. An art installation at the building's entrance intentionally draws connection to Wassaja's notable life, reflecting the ideals of individuality, inclusivity, and making one's own path in the world. The interiors are truly inspired, creatively using bold colors and patterns to encourage a sense of community. Reclaimed wood paneling, created from logs felled in the 1800's, is used on walls throughout the first floor lobby, serendipitously underscoring Wassaja's 1884 graduation date and adding warmth to social spaces.
Passion + Perspective
Hands down, this is the best residence hall at any campus in this country - designed with students and for students.
- Barbara Wilson, Ph.D