A New Role for Student Housing: Revitalizing a Mid-Sized City Core
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Of the many urban revitalization strategies currently being implemented, one in particular is gaining in popularity. The revitalizing tactic of establishing a satellite University campus within the heart of a mid-sized city suffering socially and economically is demonstrating a positive shift in terms of urban evolution. The relative newness of these ‘Town & Gown’ partnerships, however, is simultaneously creating a unique situation with respect to many common University facilities, such as the Student Residence. The establishment of a post-secondary facility in a mid-sized city centre forces defined University boundaries to dissolve into the existing city fabric, rendering the once-conspicuous campus edge non-existent. This has made decisions regarding an appropriate student residential typology exceedingly complicated. The many unexplored opportunities within a mid-sized city setting, for both ‘Town & Gown’ alike, demand a reconsideration of preconceived student residential roles, prior to the establishment of a residence within a downtown environment. Neither technically on- or off-campus, a student residence would require the characteristics from both in order to flourish in its unfamiliar mid-sized downtown environment. The question then becomes which characteristics would find the greatest success not only for a University and its students, but for the city as well. This thesis will examine how a student residence located in the heart of a mid-sized city can contribute successfully to the revitalization of its declining downtown, and will then propose a reconsidered approach to the design of a student residence, using the University of Waterloo’s School of Architecture’s new home, Cambridge, Ontario, Canada, as the siting for the final design proposal.