Developers: Your Student Housing Project Needs an Outdoor Amenity Specialist

    by Brandon Reed / November 28, 2017

    Student housing developments are unique in that they provide living spaces that assure the satisfaction, enrichment and success of the students who live in them. By the same token, well-designed outdoor areas can make a student rental property more desirable to prospective students, and have a long-term financial benefit to the owner/developer.

    In this article, we discuss several compelling reasons for student housing developers to engage a professional landscape architect early in the planning and design process to ensure functional, long-lasting, and profitable outdoor areas for their development projects.

    This is the sixth installment in an ongoing series exploring some of the most significant issues relative to student housing developments in Utah. The goal is to provide valuable insights that can guide developers in creating upscale outdoor environments for students that will result in higher returns on investment (ROI). Follow the links below to read all the articles in the series.

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    Why is an amenity specialist important to a student housing development?

    Outdoor spaces have become an integral part of student housing developments, as owners, developers, and architects realize the added value of recreational amenities as differentiating factors that may help prospective student renters choose one particular building over another.

    In student buildings of the past, students were lucky if they had access to a bench out front or a small courtyard patio. Over time, properties began to include a gazebo on a stretch of grass, or perhaps some outdoor seating with a bubbling fountain. Often times, however, these outdoor spaces seemed like afterthoughts, a way for the developer to say it offered opportunities for students to be outside without really doing all that much planning.

    Nowadays, though, as the demand for student housing goes up, so do the expectations of the students who live there. Today’s student populations have come to expect outdoor resort-style amenities that promote the social interaction they want through spaces where they can share with fellow students, and entertain their own guests.

    It goes without saying, then, that great outdoor amenity design is not a luxury; it is the first thing that makes a housing student development stand out from the rest. Smart developers see it as an investment, considering it in the earliest stages of the planning stage.

    A landscape architect can be very useful in assessing the site and helping determine the best options as regards outdoor living areas. Additionally, landscape architects can assist with decisions on the size and scope of the amenities to be offered. Their job is to create a proper plan that includes all aspects of the amenities. They discuss goals, materials, layout, style, plants, maintenance, hardscapes, turf conditions, drainage, and more. Working with a professional can help prioritize these items and assist in the creation of a master plan.


    High-level amenity design for ROI

    As a student housing developer, you’ve got to keep the bottom line in sight.

    You’ve got to consider the costs vs. benefits not just for the immediate future, but for years down the road. That is, amenity design for ROI requires a long-term outlook.

    Only a landscape architect with experience in outdoor amenity design is able to realize that. They understand which amenities work and which don’t in your area—as well as which ones work now but might prove costly in the long run.

    One of the most important ways in which a professional amenity specialist delivers ROI is by avoiding making bad decisions in the first place. Consider a common scenario: a developer wants to build a rock climbing wall on the roof with no regard to the load capacity of the structure. A good landscape architect’s approach is to help the client choose the right amenities for the scale and size of the project and coordinate with all the appropriate engineers and architect professionals to ensure all are on the same page.


    Final thoughts

    Engaging an experienced landscape architectural designer can help take your amenity concepts from good to great—and help you avoid many of the common but costly design pitfalls we are so often called in to correct after the fact.

    Remember that the value of amenity design commences at the origination of the project. Get your landscape architect on board sooner rather than later, and he or she will translate good design into hard dollars in your pocket.

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    Tags: Student Housing

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    Brandon Reed

    Brandon Reed

    I help top level architects and developers create landscapes that elevate the human experience.

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