Western Carolina University


Residential Life Master Plan

By 2004 the University of North Carolina System had designated Western Carolina University as a growth institution and it therefore sought to increase the capacity of on-campus housing. As a result, the university engaged B&D to complete a residential life master plan. The objectives of the plan were to analyze the existing buildings and plan for additional beds. Our market research included a student survey, a faculty and staff survey, student focus groups, a peer institution analysis, and an off-campus residential market analysis. The outcome of the research suggested there was substantial demand for an increased number of beds on campus. The off-campus student residential market had witnessed significant development during the previous five years as well. Trailer parks and older apartment buildings once dominated the landscape, but the community was now home to large apartment complexes that offered attractive amenities to students. We quantified those amenities and lease rates and researched the pipeline for future development in the area, discovering many more units in the planning stages. Focus groups revealed that students chose to attend the university for its specialized academic offerings and its beautiful mountain location. However, the mountains limited the space available for any new residential development. We performed a preliminary site capacity analysis that was used to coordinate the residential life master plan. We also helped the university to consider dining within the context of housing. During the master planning process, we facilitated meetings between the Department of Residential Living and the Director of Auxiliary Services. In 2008 the university initiated development of a two-phased, 801-bed, $50.2 million Honors College residential community. Balsam Hall opened in 2009, and Blue Ridge Hall opened in 2010.