With a campus architecture that creates a magnetic destination and compelling home for first year students, VMDO won the design competition for the University of Miami’s Centennial Village. Featuring 522,000 square feet of living-learning residential space on Lake Osceola, the iconic center of campus, Centennial Village will fulfill the vision for a visually stunning and programmatically complete first year residential community at the University of Miami. Attracting and engaging top students through an enhanced residential profile, Centennial Village will enrich the first year experience through programming and architecture designed to foster academic, social, and community relationships as well as interaction with live-in faculty and residence life staff.
Creating a Signature First Year Experience
Part of an ambitious, multi-phased housing plan, Centennial Village builds on efforts to re-define what it means to live, learn, work, and meet at the University of Miami. The project follows an upper-class student village currently under construction and set to open in August 2020. “The University will be providing the next generation of ’Canes a unique residential experience that will enhance and contribute more to their college success,” shares Patricia A. Whitely, Vice President for Student. “We look forward to this project, which will complement the Student Housing Village currently under construction.”
VMDO was selected as the winning designer from a pool of invited applicants, five of whom were asked to present design work over a multi-staged interview process. Design plans for Centennial Village have been submitted to the City of Coral Gables for review, and the University plans to break ground on the project in the summer of 2020. A phased schedule is in place, with the first phase of Centennial Village opening in fall 2022 and the second phase opening in fall 2024. VMDO is teamed with Miami-based Zysocvich Architects to develop and execute the project.
Fostering Community and Connection
Currently in the initial stages of design, Centennial Village is being programmed to create a sense of community at multiple levels, starting with 1,728 beds of student housing and progressing to the scale of the floor, building, village, and campus. Centennial Village’s four Residential Colleges reach out to campus, building on the existing architectural context and connecting the campus together, while envisioning the entire south side of Lake Osceola as a new and dynamic center of student life.
Jim Smart, Executive Director for Housing and Residential Life, states: “When presented with the opportunity to re-envision our first-year housing, we took an in-depth look at the first-year experience of our resident students. Centennial Village will provide students with a blend of individual, group, and community-wide spaces to aide in their transition into University life.”
The Residential Colleges are distinguishable as four buildings, offering a straightforward sense of orientation and identity for students that makes a lasting impression. Sited next to a new Canal Walk that connects residential, academic, dining, and pedestrian spaces along a shared waterfront, the four Residential Colleges, along with a renovated Eaton Residential College, create a village – a community where learning is integral to life. Through careful arrangement of individual parts, the design situates first year students within a larger community, at both the village and campus scales, while supporting Housing Facilities Strategic Plan “to differentiate, educate, innovate, activate, and inspire.”
Designing an Effortless Fit
“The architectural expression of Centennial Village draws inspiration from the rich modernism of campus, the local and international style and culture of Miami, and the institutional aspiration of hemispheric leadership,” explains VMDO Design Principal, Joe Atkins. Signature porches, arcades, and breezeways on campus form architectural responses that enjoy the natural environment while addressing tropical temperature, humidity, and glare. Exterior wall materials provide a cohesive and consistent character that unifies the campus visually. The proposed design for Centennial Village builds on this context to forge an effortless and authentic campus fit.
Supporting Student Health
Studies show that students who live on campus perform better academically, graduate at an accelerated pace, and rate their college experiences better than those who live off campus. Architecture’s role in creating a sense of home is critical to supporting each student’s physical and mental health. The proposed design of Centennial Village offers respite through physical and visual connections to nature and through the incorporation of natural materials and colors. The creation of an active pedestrian landscape that brings the outdoors in through views and daylighting will help increase student alertness levels, decrease absenteeism, and support better sleep quality and opportunities for movement. Light amount and quality, acoustic design, and attention to temperature and humidity will reinforce a sense of belonging and make residents feel comfortable and at home.
More information is available at: https://newstudenthousing.studentaffairs.miami.edu/