Focusing on community spaces to increase student engagement and success

On Friday, Dec. 6 at 10 a.m., California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly), Pomona cut the ribbon on its brand-new modern-living residence halls and dining commons in Pomona, California.

Pushing against its commuter-campus reputation and serving to promote the school’s focus on student success and community, the two new eight-story residential towers and the dining commons will serve as an exciting new center for campus community building. The approximately 340,000 square-foot project will offer its first-year student residents smaller communities within larger towers, as well as a variety of communal spaces for different activities.

The collaborative design-build team consisting of HMC and Sundt Construction created a mid-rise design that interlaces shared social spaces, natural light, and open-air connections throughout the entire eight floors of each of the two new student housing buildings.

“Today’s college students embrace housing facilities that are lively, engaging, state-of-the-art, and sustainable,” said HMC Managing Principal Kristina Singiser. “So, we set out to design something that would accommodate nearly 1,000 first-year students, foster social connectivity and bonding, feel like home for their student residents, and ultimately support their academic success.”

Located along the entry to campus and adjacent to the historic Stables on Kellogg Hill, the buildings form a prominent beacon to students and visitors. Each floor has two 35-student households, creating a home away from home environment. Ground-floor amenities are connected to outdoor spaces, promoting socialization and wellness. Balconies on the fifth floor connect students living on upper floors to the outdoors. Living rooms and lounges use full-height glass to queue students into the social activities happening inside, while also capturing amazing views of the San Gabriel Mountains.

Student engagement is driven by diverse social space with living rooms, shared bathrooms, and large communal stairway lounges. Gender and social equity influenced how community and bathroom spaces were designed—such as using full-height bathroom partitions, and equitable access to amenities. Bedrooms feature abundant natural light while hallways end in views toward the campus and local mountains. Shared social spaces create an intimate environment where students can interact and make life-long connections.

Students will enjoy meals in a new 650-seat dining commons located at the campus entrance and gateway to the housing community. As part of a broader campus amenity, private eating areas and conference rooms will equip the dining hall, and also accommodate late night diners.

First-year students move into the new residence halls on Jan. 17, 2020 and spring semester begins on January 18.