HMC Architects and Sundt celebrated the topping out of Cal State Fullerton’s Student Housing project in Fullerton, California on September 23. HMC’s Nicholas Casolari and Lillian Cao were in attendance to sign their names to the building’s final beam and celebrate the construction milestone.

Housing plays a unique role in forming one’s identity as a resident and a future citizen and CSUF is an increasingly diverse campus. The 185,505 SF housing project leverages building mass and landscape to create an insulated community to serve 600 sophomores and juniors and provides diverse spaces that will support a wide variety of programmed experiences, and undoubtedly unexpected uses as well.

Influenced by the master plan of the areas surrounding the new site to the west and south, the project is situated between a parking structure, a loading dock, and a major freeway. Despite these challenges, the team recognized the opportunity for this project to create a new neighborhood within the overall housing community. The building features a ground-level podium and five upper levels of resident suites to house students, resident advisors, and two staff resident apartments. While the building functions as a single unit, its exterior massing is read as three distinct wings. Two northern wings and a single southern wing are connected by a bridge at each upper level acting as a physical and social connector. The bridge and upper-level common spaces overlook an open plaza and a sloped lawn with stepped amphitheater seats to the west and an intimate courtyard for residents to the east on the ground floor. Amenities like the student lounge, laundry, and mailroom for the students, administrative offices for the staff, as well as a 3,700 SF multipurpose room to host events, further opportunities for activating a rich, diverse, and flexible community. The expansion will play a prominent role in the image of the campus, from vantage points around campus as well as the surrounding community and adjacent freeway.

COVID-19 produced unexpected cost pressures in the middle of schematic design. Because of the design-build delivery method, the team was able to quickly pivot to maintain the design on budget. The result is a project that enriches the Cal State Fullerton community by investing in student engagement through a unique residential identity for sophomore and junior students, supporting academic success through an improved student life experience for non-first year students, and reducing the campus’ carbon footprint by providing an opportunity for students to live on-campus and utilize carbon-neutral transportation. Construction will be complete in August 2022.