Do you have memories of your college dorms? Are they marked by tight buildings with bare surroundings and hardly any outdoor space to socialize? Those days are gone. With the ongoing boom in student housing development, a property must offer more than just a convenient location in order to stand out.
The student housing boom has been described by many as an arms race where new developments continuously outdo one another. First, the focus was on in-unit amenities like granite countertops, spa-like bathrooms, and gourmet kitchen appliances. Eventually, these high-end unit amenities became common place, and the focus shifted toward communal areas. The focus on communal areas is especially justified in student housing. Students spend more time outside of their living unit for both their academic and social life.
Outdoor Amenities Driving Student Engagement
Luxury is becoming less the exception and more the rule for student housing developments. Students now demand more resort-style features in their housing. From lazy rivers and infinity-edge pools, to poolside cabanas and hammock gardens, the list is really limitless.
Since having an ordinary fitness center or pool is no longer enough, developers are now enhancing their amenities with out-of-this-world features. And there seems to be no end in sight. When it comes to your outdoor amenities you will need to be willing to cater to the raised standards on student living.
Developers are embracing these five state-of-the-art outdoor amenities in order to get a leg up on the student housing competition.
1. Elaborate Fitness Facilities
One amenity that has undergone significant transformation in recent years is the fitness center. No longer just a place to exercise, the fitness center has become a place for students to gather and socialize. Classes for yoga, aerobics, cardio, strength training, and wellness in general are very much in vogue.
The newest trend is offering instant workout classes via digital workouts. Outdoor fitness studios can come equipped with projection screens or large televisions where students can pick workouts on demand with a range of options from Pilates to kickboxing.
The Cottages of College Station in Texas is a great example of an elaborate fitness facility. It includes a gym and yoga room, steam room, sauna, tennis court, sand volleyball court, and more!
2. High-Level Rooftop Amenities
Some student housing residences are expanding and enhancing rooftop amenities in order to draw prospective students and leave a lasting impression on residents. These enhancements include aesthetically appealing social lounges, coffee bars, grilling areas, and similar spaces that foster community interaction. This allows students to lounge around and soak up the sun or the stars, whatever the case may be.
Take Sol y Luna, a luxury student apartment building in Arizona, as an example. It boasts two stunning roof decks that feature glittering pools, an outdoor projection system, and areas reserved for yoga. When residents are done enjoying the amazing panoramic views, the building has multiple steam rooms, tanning beds, and two fully equipped fitness centers.
3. Outdoor Dining & Kitchen Venues
Dining outdoors has become highly popular for today’s students. And they like to cook their own meals with friends and neighbors. In order to provide that type of desired amenity, developers are offering stunning patio areas as additional dining spaces. Others have placed BBQ grills around fire pits and fireplaces or extended seating from a bistro or café to an outdoor space. Outdoor kitchens can also be combined with other design elements to improve their usability throughout the year. For example, an overhead structure can cover an outdoor kitchen with shade or shelter during inclement weather.
Offering a variety of upscale dining and cooking venues on the upper level of a student housing development creates a differentiator in the marketplace. These amenities can leverage views while at the same time act as a beacon to the larger community about the lifestyle found within.
4. Sports & Recreation
It is simply mind-blowing what some of the most luxurious student housing communities in North America are offering in the realm of sports and recreation. Tavern-style game rooms, air hockey, darts, video gaming stations – you name it, competitive student housing developments have it! Outdoor perks at some of these high-end developments also include sand volleyball and full basketball courts, and of course, a resort style pool.
In some of these properties, residents even enjoy an on-site golf simulator, as well as a ski and snowboard simulator.
5. The Ever Popular Swimming Pool and Hot Tub
Some amenities are evergreen; they will always be an attraction for potential residents. Swimming pools and hub tubs are definitely among these. What better way to decompress from classes than cooling off and working on your tan in the summer or taking laps in an indoor heated pool in the winter?
Upscale student housing projects throughout the U.S. are offering more than just lounge chairs around a pool and/or the hot tub area. These developments give college students the chance to take a dip while enjoying awesome features poolside. Imagine resort-style sundecks, cabanas, sand volleyball courts, and even a private beach between a sparkling pool and lazy river at your next development.
The Bottom Line for Amenity Selection
Developers see a long runway ahead in upscale student housing. As with the majority of development decisions, the most important line when choosing amenities is the bottom one. No matter how exciting a new amenity might seem, its attraction to potential and current tenants must be balanced, both for now and the future.
Student housing developers can increase their chances for success by partnering with an experienced landscape architecture firm early on. You’ll be able to gain from their expertise, perspective, and design process insights about what will work your development. That way, your project will stay on top of the lifestyle trends students seek to truly enjoy during their years at college.
Editor’s Note: Originally published October 30, 2017. Updated December 3, 2019 with additional insights and imagery.