Designing College Campus Architecture that Helps Students Achieve

We Design Campuses That Inspire Learning and Discovery

Every great school marks its students with excellence. To become highly esteemed and sought after, higher-education institutions need facilities designed to enhance their signature methods of teaching. That’s why, at HMC Architects, we design college campus architecture that offers a framework in which students can thrive and that promotes good study habits and wellness for academic success. Whether your institution is a four-year university, a community college, a commuter campus, or a trade school, we can design an ideal environment in which students can learn and grow.

Design doesn’t live in a vacuum—it requires collaboration. We pay attention to your ideas because we want to use your insights in creating your design. It’s your input that makes your space right for you, so we stick to your master plan and design according to your goals. We even meet one-on-one with employees and students who will use the space every day. It’s this collaboration that allows us to create amazing architecture that leads to delighted clients and thriving students.


Our Areas of University Building Design Expertise

No matter what architectural features your campus needs, we can design them. Here are just a few areas of campus design at which we excel:

Student unions

Student unions are centers of campus life. They act as "sticky spaces," keeping students on campus to study, to get involved in student activities, to charge their electronic devices, or even just to connect to WiFi. Our spaces provide students with comfortable areas where they can relax and socialize, where small or large groups can work together.

Student housing

Our student housing designs help students who’ve never lived away from their parents feel right at home. We’ve designed residence halls that feature living rooms for socializing, shared bathrooms that encourage socialization and support gender diversity and equality, and bedrooms with abundant natural lighting. Oversized windows, central social spaces, and clearly visible and easily accessible elevators create open areas that reduce anxiety and foster community, especially in first-year students.


Classrooms should support changing learning and teaching styles. Our engaging and flexible designs facilitate interdisciplinary communication and enable student collaboration. Whether your space requires lecture rooms or laboratories, performance spaces or mechanical bays, we can design an environment that meets and exceeds your students’ needs.


Libraries aren’t just for lending books, they’re also learning centers. Collaboration facilitates learning—particularly when supported by technology. We create libraries that enable students to easily use technology. Our designs also help create a sense of community, allowing students to connect while studying.

Dining halls

Meals have the power to bring people together. Warm, inviting, and conveniently located dining halls foster a sense of community for students. HMC has created various dining spaces that include private eating areas, conference rooms, and late-night dining areas.

We design for different types of institutions

Four-year universities

From residence halls to libraries and beyond, our designs provide students with the study areas needed to focus on college life and academics. Our designs always consider the existing master plan of your institution, bringing balance to all renovations or new construction on your campus.

Community colleges

Community colleges fill an important niche in education. They support commuter students and those who have different needs from undergrads attending four-year universities. By designing sticky spaces, we're helping to keep these commuter students on campus in between classes. With good architecture, these schools also become more visible in their communities and deliver better educational experiences for their students.

Trade Schools and Technical Colleges

Not all students want or need a four-year academic program; some attend trade schools or technical colleges to learn specific skills. Our architectural designs for these campuses incorporate all the technical and trade machine shops, laboratories, tech facilities, and materials that best promote learning in these environments.

Explore Some of Our Favorite Projects

Our higher education projects speak for themselves. Here are some of our favorites:

California State Polytechnic University – Pomona's Student Housing

Cal Poly Pomona needed comfortable student housing to welcome nearly 1,000 first-year students. Administrators wanted housing aimed at promoting social activities and helping students thrive. We collaborated with teams from Sundt Construction and Ehrlich Architects to design two mid-rise buildings and a dining commons that feature shared social spaces, natural lighting, and open-air connecting walkways. Each floor has two houses that each accommodate 35 students. These promote social engagement through living rooms, shared bathrooms that support gender equality, and large communal stairway lounges. Slated for completion in 2019, this collaborative project will result in buildings that help new students adjust to life away from home while enabling academic success.


San Francisco State University J. Paul Leonard Library

San Francisco State University (SFSU) needed to renovate its library to accommodate evolving technology. We installed an automated library retrieval system and converted space occupied with bookshelves into open study areas. We updated the building’s electrical and telecommunications systems to meet the demands of modern electrical information and multimedia systems. The historic Sutro Collection is a renowned archive of rare books, original documents, and artifacts donated by former San Francisco mayor Adolph Sutro. The collection needed to be housed in an environment that would preserve it long into the future, so we designed accommodations for it on the 5th and 6th floors of the renovated building. The result is a modern, spacious, and flexible learning environment that supports group and individual study, as well as any technological changes tomorrow brings.


Oxnard College's Dental Hygiene School

The prestigious dental hygiene program at Oxnard College needed a new, cutting-edge facility. We designed the replacement building for the Dental Hygiene and Dental Assisting programs to support the school’s rigorous dental curriculum. Students can attend classes and treat patients in the dental clinic and work on projects in the dental lab.


Support Academic Programs with Architectural Solutions

If your campus needs architectural renovations or new designs, contact HMC Architects. We design building exteriors and interiors that enhance and adapt to the ways students learn. Peruse our blog articles below to see how we’ve accomplished this for past and current clients.

Your faculty, programs, and offerings make college an experience students will remember for the rest of their lives. Leave an even greater impression with inspirational campus architecture.