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Housing and Society

ISSN: 0888-2746 (Print) 2376-0923 (Online) Journal homepage: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rhas20

Student Response To Dormitory Buildings

Marjorie Kriebel

To cite this article: Marjorie Kriebel (1980) Student Response To Dormitory Buildings, Housing
and Society, 7:1, 54-66, DOI: 10.1080/08882746.1980.11429845

To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08882746.1980.11429845

Published online: 09 Jun 2015.

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Download by: [University of Sussex Library] Date: 02 March 2017, At: 14:57
Student Response To
Dormitory Buildings

Marjorie Kriebel

The specifics of how physical elements are incorporated into the design of a dormitory building may
affect the social climate and attitudes of its occupants. In comparing student evaluations of five
dormitory buildings at a medium-size private university in an urban setting, it is seen that design
considerations such as movability offurnishings, shape ofroom , door location, corridor layout, location
ofsharedfacilities , building shape, and orientation ofwindows becomefactors in how occupants respond
to the buildings. Increasing the number of student options makes the environment seen as more
"individualized",. decreasing the options is seen as institutionalized. Offering occupant control over
frequency of contact with others may increase satisfaction with the dormitory.

The architectural characteristics of a dormitory cency and traffic flow have been considered as
building may affect the attitudes and social cli- variables in the formation of friendship patterns
mate of its occupants. Students' comments on (Gerst and Sweetwood, 1973) and some attention
how they respond to the room shape, furniture, has been paid to room flexibility in terms of fixed
materials used, etc. show that they see these versus more movable furniture (High and
building details as symbolic messages of values. Sundstrom, 1977). The majority of these studies
The microcosm of the immediate physical envi- address what should be incorporated in a dormit-
ronment may contribute to the development of ory but not the effects of how it is incorporated.
"dorm cultures" (Sommer, 1969). This study looks at a variety of physical elements
Most studies give limited attention to room and their possible contributions to the develop-
shapes, relationship of rooms and facilities to ment of an ambience as seen and interpreted by
each other and to the overall building, placement the students. While the personalities of the oc-
of room doors, quality of room finishes, or other cupants, administrative decisions of population
physical characteristics of the spaces. They have mix, and economic differences of room cost are
considered number of rooms in a "house" or liv- variables in establishing a dorm's culture, the
ing unit, percentage of single rooms, age of build- physical form may also have a pervasive relation-
ing, inclusion of lounge or recreational facilities ship to the social climate, and all variables must be
within the building, and relationship of the build- seen as interrelating.
ing to campus (Moos, 1978). Double-loaded cor-
ridor plans have been evaluated versus suites Methodology
(Corbett, 1973; Valins and Baum, 1973), adja- An awareness that students sense a difference
between dormitories and in some cases, between
Marjorie Kriebel is an Assistant Professor with the Design room types within a dormitory occurred indirectly
Department of Nesbitt College, Drexel University. through assignments in a History of Modern Ar-

54 Housing and Society Vol. 7, No.1 (1980)


chitecture course. With the intent of making the Since 1974 an estimated 110 papers on dormi-
students more conscious of how they interact with tory spaces have been received from 415 students
their environments, they were required to select For the purpose of the course, records were kept
anyone space on campus, describe their re- on the topics of the building analyses; 45 papers
sponses to the space, and relate their responses to were received on dormitory buildings. Less com-
the physical components of the space. A sub- plete records are available on the single space
sequent assignment in the course was a similar topics. Of217 recorded papers, 35 were on rooms
analysis of an entire building, not necessarily on in a dormitory; it is estimated that an additional 30
campus. Dormitory rooms and dormitory build- papers on dormitory rooms were also received
ings were frequently chosen by the students as (see Table 1 for distribution of recorded papers).
subjects for one or both assignments. Unfortunately, copies were not kept of the pap-

TABLE 1 - Comparative Statistics


Dorm A Dorm B Dorm C Dorm D Dorm E

Date of Construction 1932 1966 1972 1978 1977


Original Use women's men's women's co-ed
dorm dorm dorm dorm hospital
Students Housed 236 420 377 398 43
Floors 12 12 8 3 3
Floors Housing Students 10 10 7 3 3
Rooms/Floor* 15 21 27 76 7
Students/Floor** 26 42 54 152 15
StudentsI' ,House" 26 42 27 23/26/28 43
Kitchen per floor floor house house building
Laundry per 2 floors building house 2/floor building
Cost per Student $325 $350 $350 $365 $350
$375/loft
% Freshmen 50.4 53.1 52.8 34.7 9.3***
% Upperclassmen 49.2 46.9 47.2 65.1 72.1
% Graduates 0.4 0 0 0.3 18.6
% Men 72.0 61.0 52.3 61.6 65.1
% Women 28.0 39.0 47.7 38.4 34.9
Dorm analyses recorded 1 0 43 1 0
Room analysis recorded 6 11 7 10 1

All statistics, including costs, reflect Winter Term 1978-79.

*Floors used as typical:


Dorm A -3,4,5,6
Dorm B -2,3,4,5,7,8
Dorm C -2,3,4,5,6,7,8
Dorm D -2,3
Dorm E-2

**Typically rooms are doubles but resident advisors and tutors


have single occupancy rooms and some singles are availa-
ble in Dorm A and Dorm E. Triples and one quad also occur
in Dorm E. Some lounges in Dorms A, B, and C currently are
used to house students.

***Transfer students with Freshman academic standing.

Vol. 7, No.1 (1980) Housing and Society 55


ers until very recently. Only ten building and four dominant feature, and the space most frequently
room analyses were available for the direct quo- described by students, is a two-storied, balconied
tations included below to illustrate student at- living room with a formality that symbolizes the
titudes. controlled social environment of the female stu-
dent in the 1930's, and on many campuses, until
Dorm Descriptions And Student Comments the 1960's. Originally, a pantry adjacent to the
Five dormitories at a medium-size private uni- living room graciously served during ~ ~ white
versity in an urban setting offer an opportunity to glove" teas. Now the living room is unevenly
observe students' responses to the built form and used, mostly for study in the evening. But any
to see reflections of historical changes in attitudes suggestion that the space be used differently or
toward dormitory life. Although the dormitories modified is met by student resistence. It is a
were built for differing programs, the current "loved" anachronism: "Maybe we feel uncom-
nominal use of them is now the same: coed living fortable, as if an unseen maiden aunt is watching
with men and women separated by floor or house. our movements and actions. If this be so, then
The typical form unit in all buildings is a double keep watch, my aunt and preserve these
room. Toilet facilities are, in most instances, places - our appreciation will yet swing back in
shared with other residents of the house and your favor. " Originally the building was designed
kitchen facilities are available for student use. to be a self-contained entity, with dining room and
Three of the buildings are high rise, two are only kitchen on ground level, reception room next to
three stories high. Two are older buildings, three the front desk, and a complete infirmary on the
are newer. There is limited choice in the type of top floor. Today the kitchen and dining room are
housing since most rooms are double occupancy, unused, the reception room houses bicycles, and
but there is a range of character in the spaces from the infirmary has become student rooms, but the
which to select. living room alone is sufficiently dominant to be
University regulations require that freshmen able to establish and maintain a character for the
who do not live with parents or guardians must entire dormitory.
reside on campus. Upperclassmen are not re- The resident floors are comparatively small,
quired to live on campus. Freshmen, transferees housing from ten to twenty-six students per floor.
and graduate students residing on campus for the The variety of room sizes and shapes and the
first time are assigned accommodations in order diversity of floor layouts give the residents a
of application, on a space available basis, honor- greater sense of choice although some of the
ing preference whenever possible. Subsequent irregular-shaped rooms are seen to pose difficul-
room assignments are student-selected in a prefe- ties in furniture arrangement. All furniture is
rential order system based on the student's Room movable. There is a wash-basin in each room and
Selection Priority Number, which indicates the the rooms which previously constituted the infir-
student's relative standing for reserving a specific mary have private or semi-private bathrooms.
room. Each floor has a kitchen and lounge. These factors
Table 1 shows statistical comparisons among combine to give an intimate' 'homelike" feeling to
the five buildings, but individual analysis of each the dormitory although the age of the building is
building is essential to an understanding of their perceived as a negative factor. Because of its age,
differing characters. Dorm A's rooms are the least expensive and at-
tract a clique, which further reinforces an internal
Dorm A "sociable" atmosphere. In the current year there
The oldest of the dormitory buildings is Dorm A were several floors assigned to freshmen males
(Figure 1). It was constructed as a women's dor- only and some of the floor lounges were used as
mitory, to stand, with dignity, in loco parentis. Its student rooms. These allocations have apparently

56 Housing and Society Vol. 7, No.1 (1980)


made the dorm seem less "quiet" than in previous DormB
years. Next year the administration will discon- Dorm B (Figure 2) is the prototypical
tinue the present policy of freshmen grouping in dormitory - a double-loaded corridor of almost
favor of alternate freshmen/non-freshmen room identical two-person rooms with central, shared
assignments on most floors. toilet facilities. Built as a men's dorm, its ground
floor and basement contain lounge and recrea-
tional spaces as well as the Residential Living
Office. This is the most "institutional" of the
dorms and the least liked; it is filled last in the
preferential selection. Hallways are long,
straight, and narrow, with painted concrete block
walls and carpeted floors. Doors are located
symmetrically opposite each other.
There are two-story high lounges, opposite the
elevators, centrally located in the long hallway,
which serve to connect every two floors. These
balconied rooms with spiral stairs offered
panoramic views of the city from the upper floors
and were the only relief elements in the building.
In 1975 they were described as having the
"popular effect ofbringing together a whole lot of
students who are anxious to meet ,other young
people", and the social life of Dorm B's residents
was described as "better than in the other Halls. "
This feature has since been eliminated as the
lounges are currently being used as student rooms
and now Dorm B is seen as the least desirable of
the dorms. Statistically the population is not much
different from Dorm A or Dorm C, but Dorm B is
viewed as "the Freshmen dorm."
The double-occupancy rooms (Figure 6) have
painted concrete block walls and vinyl tile floors.
Their long, narrow dimensions make furnishing
5 El particularly difficult. All of the furniture except
e the bed and desk chair are fixed in place and
arranged symmetrically about the room's long
axis. The door, window and air handling unit are
also centered. Options for personalizing are seen
as minimal. In 1975 a student in a Housing Semi-
nar course developed a proposal for modular fur-
nishings which could offer "living variations" to
match the students' variety of uses. "Each stu-
dent studies and socializes in different ways.
Some students want a large desk surface and
privacy to study, but some prefer to study
FIGURE 1 - Dorm A elsewhere and want space to socialize within their

Vol. 7, No.1 (1980) Housing and Society 57


room. Some like 10 section off the room into a
separ.:tes(>c'QI·space and ,tudy-sleep drea Qn4:::.
some :are stJtisj_d to jllst ·iecvet"e room as is.. ·:
Some a,utlent, iike to keep cllangin, 'hei, room
all tle'ime"(Me,er,' 1:"S). •e ·1"·8" ceiiq
lleiBht._:.ee~'some :smdeats·· to :coDsider
the pes:smla,.:.n:stnletiqasleepiq left and
even.lleD· this wasfe,hiddeo: some: were built.
9

But ...emBy .ery little ~teatiODS have been


made &8. daese· basieall¥ stereet)fped rooms. The
sUlle.aieD efmovable.:famiture has beeDmeerpo-
rate<l::iu: Berm·D.
In colljoDcoon widta· stud, for Educational
Facil:idesLa1KJ.18tories, in lfi3 a senior Interior
Desip:lmclioelas:s was 8i¥eD dleusipmeDt: of
propes:iqo_ps tOlUIJ efdaedormitery spaces
on cam,us::.· One:teamellose Berm It, proposm,
reorpm_tioDeftbe double rooms into ·suites,
minimiziq··dle :D umber of corridor doors _d,
hopeilJlly, NSlnlcmriDldle social relMio.ships.
Suites andapanment arraa,eme:Dts were par-
ticularl, ,.pulariu·dle·late • •':1· ~ci:earlJ 1978' s
(VanderR,D aDd liJ\lierslem, 1_7>8Dd·altho.
Dorm Cwas Niq.desipedd'lilriBg tis period,
there' is DOt .dermiteryoD:lle campus: based en tially satisfted, how8¥er,wl1eakitcllens were
this coneept. a. proposed ellaaBes were not wedged into former laundry spaces 08 each floor
considered.·forimple:meDta~oBin·BermD.. A sec- and the floor laundry facilities were relocated to a
ond proposal of mcorporatiq floef' kitchens adja- gang-facility in the basement.
cent to aad CODBeete4'l with the loUDPs was par-
DormC
Still reprded as new, Dorm. C (Figure 3) is
well-liked and it filled rnt in last sprina's prefe-
rential selection: "I definitely like (Dorm C) visu-
ally and would cnooseitover the other residential
spaces provided," "probably.the most popular
dormitory at Drexel.. " But it is also considered as
the most" quiet.. " Its sbapeis the major cause for
both comments. The larJe, cDr\ledfroat is per-
e,ived as a strOllS, vis. ·statemeDt invitiq the
observer into botb the cOBwoed fereeourt and the
building itself. The slape is. "tli/lerent," and im-
plies ' 'informality iI p:laY!IlI"ess," ,tope n-
.. ..

ness," "sunlight and air." ae semi-circular


shape is positively responded to as "protective,"
sip.ifying "our protection/rom the outside world
DormS while at school.. " Both Dorms A andC were de-

58 Housing and Society Vol. 7, No.1 (1980)


signed as women's dormitories and both are felt to section next to the corridor and a sleeping/
have a protective nature, although the force which entertaining section at the large window. Most
contributes to that response differs. The feeling of students apparently like this forced separation
protection at Dorm C is caused by the curved form and there are few complaints about the inability to
and not by any social atmosphere or administra- rearrange the furniture (the only real choice is
tive decision. whether to bunk the beds or not). This separation
If externally the curve extends an invitation, it is seen as "very important". The possibility for
has the opposite effect internally. "The problem one roommate to sleep while the other studies,
with the curve of the building is only apparent whether this may actually occur or not, is per-
from within, and then only from the people living ceived by the students as increasing their choices
there." It creates an "alienation between the in- and the control over their space. This perceived
habitants of each wing." Unlike Dorm B's more option may make them willing to relinquish the
standard, central double-loaded corridor where possibility of rearranging furniture.
all doors open into an elongated meeting place and Nominally all the rooms are the same, but oc-
there is clear (if "tunnel") vision of all doorways cupants quickly distinguish between "inside" or
from one end of the building to the other, the ''front'' rooms and "outside" or "back" rooms.
curvature of Dorm Chides the corridor's ends and Again the building's shape has ramifications for
makes each doorway more separated and private. those living inside it. The" inside" rooms which
Doors at Dorm C are not typically located oppo- line the circle are sociopetal, or people-uniting,
site each other as at Dorm B. Activity is centered rooms (Osmund, 1959). The separation felt in the
in the rooms rather than in the corridors and car- hall's configuation is now reversed as a positive
peting in the corridor reduces what noise may be /negative, object/ground relationship reversal.
generated. Before occupancy, the program of the The hallway doors which opened away from each
dorm was changed from all women to coeduca- other are replaced by windows which face each
tional, kitchens were provided on each floor, and other. An occupant of an "inside" room can "see
fire doors were incorporated to satisfy code re- everyone going in or out . .. and know what's
quirements. The inclusion of the fire doors, which going on." He/she can also see, and be seen by,
isolate the elevator lobby, effectively cut the floor occupants of the other inside rooms. The form of
into two halves or wings. This separation is rein- the curve is excellent for both visual and verbal
forced by the location of shared facilities of "across the court" conversations. Although
kitchen, bathroom, and laundry, together with some respond that there is no privacy in the center
fire stairs, at the extreme ends of the hallways circle, most prefer the inside rooms to the outside
rather than centrally as at Dorms B or A. The floor ones. The sense of community which is absent in
lounge at the elevator lobby is used more fre- the hallways is created by the windows which all
quently for study than for socializing, and the focus to the center - centripetal becomes
student rooms which open off the elevator lobby sociopetal.
are isolated. The physical and acoustical separa- While the view from the inside rooms is into all
tion becomes a social one: "Very seldom does one the other inside rooms, the view from the outside
side socialize with the other." Unlike Dorm A and rooms is overlooking" different places on cam-
B, where men and women are separated by floor, pus". The outside rooms are the sociofugal
at Dorm C they are separated by building wing or counterparts of the inside rooms. Outside rooms
"house," but the segregation is just as definitive. are rectangular, rather than wedge-shaped as are
The form's internal message of private is en- the inside rooms. Students perceive the outside
hanced by the room design (Figure 6). The major- rooms as larger, more open, "an illusion of more
ity of the furniture is fixed and creates a division of space", due to the difference in furniture ar-
the total room into two parts - a study/dressing rangement (Figure 6), although they contain less

Vol. 7, No.1 (1980) Housing and Society 59


square footage than the inside rooms. The fact dents in regard to privacy and security in the
that one of the frequently stated "advantages" of ground floor student rooms, although there have
the outside rooms is their "good television recep- been no reported incidents.) The dorm is or-
tion" may suggest either that television is a do- ganized into" houses" of twenty-three to
minant factor in the students' lives or that the twenty-eight students in double-occupancy
outside rooms are seen to be without any major rooms. The overall building form creates a central
favorable attributes. They have the same white court with extended wings which reduce the ex-
painted concrete block walls and anonymous gray ternal scale of the building and, together with the
tile as the inside rooms, but the absence of unique low height, make it more" residential" . The non-
shape and the less distinct separation of study rectangular shape helps reinforce the house divi-
from sleeping area make them perceived as a less sions in the case of those in the wings, but the
strong, architectural statement and hence less in- central houses are less discernible and depend on
dividual and more institutional. firedoors and color coding of room doors for def-
inition. In the apparent effort of "jogging" hall-
DormD ways to reduce their visual length, the resultant
Dorm D (Figure 4) opened in September 1978. complicated corridor system becomes a diso-
Unlike Dorms A, B, and C, it is not a high-rise but rienting labyrinth to the visitor.
only three stories in height. Student rooms are on House lounges are located at the "knuckle"
all three floors; reception, recreation room and a where corridors turn at right angles; bathrooms
large tutoring room are also on the ground floor. and stairs are in this immediate area. In some
(Some concern has been expressed by the stu- houses the bathroom door is visible from the

L Lounge
K Kitchen
B Bath
S Stair
E Elevator

o 10 50 100
FIGURE 3 - Dorm C I I I I

60 Housing and Society Vol. 7, No.1 (1980)


or dress, the bureaus get 'tquite overcrowded
even with a small amount of clothing", and the
desks are ''just a bit too small" ,thedrywaUparti..
tions offer poor soundproofina and invite putting a
fISt through them, and the walls do not accommo-
date attaching "things'" to them.
The limited duration of occupancy does not
permit any longitudinal evaluation of the student
response at present. While nominally the rooms
are all identical, there are at least three different
room types. Those on the court which face inward
toward each other may be seen to have a different
character than those on the external wings, much
DormC as the inside and outside rooms at Dorm C are
seen to differ. On the third floor all but eight of the
house lounge, in others it is not. In all houses the rooms are "lofts", having a slanted ceiling under
kitchen is accessed from the lounge and this the sloping roof. These are the most desired
proximity may encourage a more social use of the rooms and the most expensive. Reserved for up-
lounge. Furnishings in the lounge include both perclassmen, they carry a prestige and it bas been
table seating and lounge chairs. Many students commented tbat occupants of Dorm D are "better
cook meals in the dorms, especially since food dressers and drive better cars . "
service is not available on the weekends and a
weekly bus to a supermarket is provided by the DormE
University. There is one other dormitory option - an un-
The students are generally pleased with the usual alternative (Figure 5). The University is ex-
double-occupancy rooms. They see them as periencing an increased enrollment and while
"warm" and less institutional than rooms in the Dorm D was under construction an unoccupied
other dorms: "I feel good about it," HI would hospital owned by the University was used as a
have a diffICult time living in the other dorms after stop-gap housing annex . Minimal modifications in
living here. " They feel that the decision to have all the form of paint and furniture were made since
the fumiture movable gives them a chance to per- only one year of use was anticipated; no major
sonalize the space: 'tThe furniture can be ar- alterations were done. The opening of Dorm D has
ranged to the taste ofthe student)' - "Being able to not, however,eased the demand totally, and the
arrange the furniture the way you wanted it made hospital continues to be used as bousing.
you feel as if you were in your own room, n Hmos t The building is three stories high with student
importantly, I am a part ofit. " Material selections rooms on all floors and a kitcben and lounge on the
are seen as reinforcing tbe " homey" or residential ground floor. It bas an irregular shape and no two
quality: thetloor is carpeted in the.rooms as well student rooms are alike.. There are five single
as the hall ("the one accessory I would prefer rooms, six doubles, seven triples, and one qual-
before all others")," drywall is used for two or ruple. The rooms range in size from a 105 square
three oftbe wa.lls in each room, reducing the ex- foot single to the 510 square foot (plus private bath
tent ofCODcrete block walls; all furniture is solid and halfbatb) quad. The median size is 326 sq. ft.;
oak; and there is a bay window in each room (t'it the mean is·309 SQ.. ft.. Three rooms have private
gives the space a little sophistication"'). There are half baths, two share a full bath, and the :quad bas
complaints that there is inadequate provision for not only a private bath and half bath but incorpo-
storage (closets are not tall enough for a long coat rates a study·solarium. Four other "rooms'" are

Vol. 7, No.1 (1980) Housing and Society 61


DormD

actually suites of two or more rooms.


Physically, Dorm E is considered the least de-
sirable. Its previous use as an oncologic hospital is
obvious to those living in the former operating
room and macabre jokes discuss the location of
the morgue. Until recently roof leaks restricted
the number of third floor rooms that could be
occupied, and heating and hot water are unde-
pendable.
Students are assigned to Dorm E only as de-
mand requires; they are almost all transfers and
graduate students. Assignment is by population
type: male graduate students on the fIrst floor,
female transfer students on the second, and male
undergraduate transfer students on the third. As-
signment is often received with distress: '''I was
devastated." But curiously Dorm E feels like a
large house and its occupants sense a camaraderie
that may be further increased by the shared ad-
versities of the make-shift conditions. There is a
sense of identity that may be created by several
factors.. The building is small and it has never been
fully occupied; typical occupancy ranges from
thirty to forty. Dispersed rather than centralized
bath and toilet facilities allow a higher degree of
control as do the suite-study areas and single
rooms. Sharing is required less frequently with
o 10 50 100 fewer people in these "personal areas" and the
I I I I I
ability to have relative privacy when one wishes
I
to elect it strengthens the willingness to share in
FIGURE 4 - Dorm D the public kitchenllounge spaces (Altman, 1975).

62 Housing and Society Vol. 7, No.1 (1980)


Unlike the other dormitories, which have floor or
house kitchens, Dorm E has only one kitchen
which all students may use. Although the
student/kitchen ratio is greater than in the other
Dorms except for Dorm B, the large size of the
kitchen at Dorm E encourages simultaneous use
by several students, while the more restricted
areas in the other dorms discourage it. The lounge
area in Dorm E is adjacent to and visually con-
nected with the kitchen, further encouraging in-
teraction.
Individual rooms may be bright with new paint
but still are" basically cold." What they offer is
not a positive material reference, but more area
and variety than rooms in the other Dorms. Stu-
dents who complain to Residential Living about DormE
their assignment to Dorm E often return within
two weeks pleased: "[ opened my eyes to new In the configuration of the student rooms there
possibilities . .. [can now call my section of the are two design attitudes visible. One is to attempt
triple room and my whole room home." to create equality for the occupants. Usually this
attempt takes the form of symmetry and the
Observations nominally symmetrical plan does have the ad-
The students' responses to their dorm spaces vantage of clearly defining territory for each oc-
are influenced by many factors which include cupant (and of simplicity on the part of the de-
room configuration and furniture configuration, signer). When the symmetry has been established
whether movable or fixed, as well as building through use of fixed furniture as it has been done
configuration and orientation and their particular in Dorms Band C, it also has the effect of reduc-
location in it. How the students see and respond to ing student options and sense of control over the
these relationships should be considerations in space and possibly reduces contentment with the
designing. The decision to incorporate lounges space.
and kitchens should not be considered without The other attitude is to provide flexibility of
also being aware of the effect that location of student options (which is harder from the de-
those facilities in relationship to the users and to signer's standpoint). However, in Dorms A and
other facilities has. D, there is no way in which those options can
include symmetry and the creation of two identi-
cal areas - the spaces for each student must be
different. In Dorm A the location of the closet
doors and wash basin do not permit a symmetrical
arrangement. In Dorm D, the room at first appears
to be symmetrical, but the door location precludes
any symmetry. While in theory the students may
have total flexibility, the clearly equal, symmetri-
cal space is not possible. There will be a "differ-
entness" to each person's space within the room
which could reinforce the sense of personalizing
FIGURE 5 - Dorm E the space, but may encourage one student to feel

Vol. 7, No.1 (1980) Housing and Society 63


that the other one has the "better deal." Door A. Balance design choices to convey desired de-
locations can make a difference. gree of instututional or student control.
Some of the data might be interpreted as a re- 1. Fixed furniture offers less student choice than
sponse to the newness of the building, irrespec- movable furniture.
tive of the design. But simultaneously the degree 2. A symmetrical room arrangement is consi-
of student control in terms of fixed versus mova- dered more institutional than an asymmetrical
ble furniture has increased with the newness of arrangement.
the building from Dorm B to Dorm C to Dorm D, 3. Rectangular spaces are perceived as offering
and may be a variable that is producing parallel less student options than irregular shaped
responses with newness. The two older dorms, A spaces.
and E, while having many disadvantages, are also 4. Strong or unique architectural statements may
seen to have more options for students' control be seen as more individualized and less in-
and are liked by some of their occupants, rather stitutional.
than categorically disliked because they are 5. Painted concrete block walls, vinyl asbestos
"old". tile floors and metal furniture are seen as in-
There appears to be some relationship between stitutional; drywall partitions, carpeted floors,
whether rooms are labeled" homey" or "institu- wood and upholstered furniture are associated
tional" with the degree of personal control felt with residential.
and the sense of identity with materials seen as
"residential": smooth-finshed walls as opposed
to painted concrete block walls, carpeting rather B. Permit occupant choice over frequency (~f
than vinyl tile floors, wood not metal furniture, contact l1 ith others.
J

movable furniture rather than fixed. 1. Provide the possibility of single-occupancy


Personal control is seen not only in the ability to space. This can be a subdivision within a
arrange and rearrange furniture, but also in the shared room.
options to include or exclude others from your 2. A lounge for group interaction can help main-
space or vision. It is the choice to mix with others tain control of the individual's room.
and to be alone. Complaints with Dorm B are that 3. Centralizing facilities (toilet/bath, kitchen/
one must too often be with others; in Dorm C the lounge, and stairs/elevators) increases contact
complaint is that people are isolated. possibilities.
The plan relationships will not necessarily 4. Dispersion of facilities decreases contact pos-
override social choices, but where a door is placed sibilities.
or how close the kitchen is to the lounge can be an 5. When frequency of contact can be controlled
encouragement or discouragement. The designer in personal spaces (sleeping, study, bathing),
must pay attention to all the elements of the im- greater frequency of contact may be accepted
mediate environment. in public spaces (lounge, kitchen, stairs,
elevators) .
Design Guidelines 6. Angled or curved hallways reduce visual con-
In planning dormitory space, the designer and tact but may be disorienting.
the administration must consider the desired am- 7. Number of doors visible at one time affect
bience of the dorm and the anticipated degree of contact.
interaction among the occupants. Design deci- 8. Doors opposite each other encourage more
sions should be considered along a continuum contact than a staggered door layout.
from those perceived as "institutional" or de- 9. Consider views from windows for extent of
creasing student options to those perceived as visual contact with other rooms, pathways,
"residential" or increasing student options. courtyards, etc.

64 Housing and Society Vol. 7, No. / (/980)


r - ------
,L
I
_

r--
I
,
I
I
I
I

DORM A DORM B
'7~'Z'1)( 1I~'2." 191 SQ FT 17'-5")(. lO'-7'" le4 SQ FT
+ CLO~I!.T5

DOR M C "INSloe- ROOM DORM C 1l0 UTSloe" RooM


15~O"X'4'-211 207 SQ FT 15'-QIC )( 1'2'.. 2 11 lq I 54' FT

r------
I
IL- -
I
I
I
1
,
I
__ ..J

r--------, r-------.,
I I
1 I
I I I 'I

DORM D DORM E
t<D'-i" x ll~ Bit '93 SQ F=T 23'~3")( 14'-3" 315 SQ FT

FIGURE 6 - Typical Rooms

Vol. 7, No.1 (1980) Housing and Society 65


References and Organizational Correlates." Environment
Altman, I., 1975. The Environment and Social and Behavior, Vol. 10, No.1.
Behavior: Privacy, Personal Space, Territory, Osmund, H., 1959. "The Relationship Between
Crowding, Monterey, CA: Brooks/Cole. Architect and Psychiatrist." Goshen, C., ed.
Corbett, J., 1973. "Are Suites the Answer?" En- Psychiatric Architecture, Washington: Ameri-
vironment and Behavior, Vol. 5, No.4. can Psychiatric Association.
Gerst, M. and Sweetwood, H., 1973. "Correlates Sommer, R., 1969. Personal Space: The Be-
of Dormitory Social Climate," Environment havioral Basis of Design. Englewood Cliffs,
and Behavior, Vol. 5, No.4. NJ: Prentice-Hall.
High, T. and Sundstrom, E., 1977. "Room Flexi- Valins, S. and Bauffi, A., 1973. "Residential
bility and Space Use in a Dormitory," Envi- Group Size, Social Interaction and Crowding."
ronment and Behavior, Vol. 9, No.1. Environment and Behavior, Vol. 5, No.4.
Meyer, A., 1975. "Living Variations." Perspec- Van der Ryn, S. and Silverstein, M., 1967. Dorms
tive, Vol. 6, No.1. at Berkeley: An Environmental Analysis. Ber-
Moos, R., 1978, "Social Environments of Uni- keley, CA: Center for Planning and Develop-
versity Student Living Groups: Architectural ment Research.

66 Housing and Society Vol. 7, No.1 (1980)