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  • Writer's pictureBeth & Tim Manners

Live & Learn: U Miami Re-imagines its Dorms

Updated: Sep 18, 2019

Miami Today: ‘When the University of Miami administration decided to replace its 50-year-old dorms with two sleek new clusters of mixed-use buildings, the focus changed. ‘This isn’t just housing; it’s an extension of the learning environment,’ said Jim Smart, UM’s executive director of Housing and Residential Life. Buildings in each cluster feature housing on the upper floors and classroom, office, recreational, study and meeting space on the lower floors.” Mr. Smart added: We’ve learned a lot over 50 years. We used to think of dorms as places just to sleep and study, but now we know a lot of learning, both formal and informal, goes on there. It’s really an extension of the classroom.”

“The first phase, which has no official name yet but is informally called Lakeside Village, comprises 12 acres with 25 interconnected buildings and a multitude of outdoor spaces including a grand courtyard, study spots, recreational spaces and outdoor terraces. Each of the seven-story main buildings, designed by Arquitectonica, will have five floors of student housing for 1,115 sophomores, juniors and seniors, with the ground floor and mezzanine level of the main structure serving as event and university office spaces … The second phase, Centennial Village, (for freshmen) begins with the demolition of Stanford Residential College and Hecht Residential College, both built in the late 1960s.”

“The freshman spaces were designed to draw students out of their rooms and encourage them to interact with others. ‘It’s better than a home away from home, Mr. Smart said. ‘The fact that staff and faculty live there, too, increases their interaction. We’ve added a lot of spaces that will make adjusting to college easier. We know that as they grow up more, they want more autonomy.” The university’s goals in transforming its residential component are to ‘be in a position to house as many people on campus as want to be here,’ Mr. Smart said.“We want them to have a positive experience during the course of their stay with us’.”

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