Mackey Mitchell and local firm CO-OP Architecture were hired to design a modern housing facility at Northern State University to appeal to today’s students, increase enrollment and improve retention. Originally conceived by the university as a single 300-bed building, the design team suggested two smaller halls totaling 300 beds and 85,000 sf to build community and lessen the physical impact to campus, while formalizing a new residential quad space for outdoor activities.
Several workshops took place early in the design process with both students and administration to determine appropriate unit mix and the most desirable program amenities and features. The halls include Pod Communities for Freshman and Semi-Suite and Suite configurations for Upperclassman. Additional amenities consisted of resident director and graduate assistant apartments, quiet study and lounge/activity spaces, laundry, and unique features such as a game-cleaning room and a convenience store for necessities. Interior spaces were designed to maximize daylight; and finish selections exuded a bright and warm, home-like atmosphere, a top priority requested by students.
Overall the new halls have been a success among students and also an inspiration in the region for institutions looking to the new halls as a standard for successful residential life programming and design. “Thanks to all the work of Jordan, Lea and Gwynn, Great Plains East and Great Plains West are going to be seen by many in the region as the template for new housing projects,” explained Residential Life Director, Martin Sabolo.
Mackey Mitchell sought out input from our students, my staff and other constituents on our campus and then combined that with their knowledge and creativity to give us two residence halls that exceeded even what our generous donors had hoped for.
- Martin Sabolo
Residence Life Director
Architect of Record