University of Massachusetts Dartmouth


Student Housing Master Plan

In the fall of 2015, the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth had an enrollment of approximately 8,900 students. While the University had no live-on requirements, more than half of its undergraduate students and five percent of its graduate students lived on campus in one of four residential neighborhoods. The University’s housing portfolio ranged significantly, from traditional-style residence halls constructed in the 1970s, to modern apartment buildings constructed in 2005. Several of the older buildings on campus had significant deferred maintenance needs and did not properly support the programmatic needs of the 21st century student. While newer housing stock faced less deferred maintenance issues, students still craved space that supported community building. The University was aware of these challenges, and was committed to identifying opportunities to continue to grow and diversify its campus community. To assist in this endeavor, the University of Massachusetts Building Authority retained Brailsford & Dunlavey in January 2016 to strategically address existing and future campus needs through the development of a student housing master plan for the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. The project objectives developed by B&D, in collaboration with the University, were:

• Create a residence-based, 24 / 7 learning environment
• Enhance campus identity
• Enhance campus connectivity for both residential and commuter students
• Minimize the disparity in quality among residential neighborhoods
• Increase student satisfaction

As a first step in the project, B&D led its proprietary Strategic Asset Value session with University leadership to ensure the plan aligned with the institution’s mission and values. This was followed by campus intercept interviews, competitive context analyses, student focus groups and surveys, and an off-campus market analysis.

Subsequently, results of these analyses informed B&D’s Demand-Based Programming model, which demonstrated that current on-campus housing demand was in line with current capacity, but adjustments to unit-type allocation and space programming were needed. Elements of the master plan’s recommendations included replacement of the first-year quad and parts of the sophomore quad, renovation of the remaining residence halls, and re-purposing of select existing townhouses for graduate student housing. Additionally, B&D presented program elements for a neighborhood commons facility that would reinforce the housing updates with dining, parking, conference, and community activity spaces. A 10-year phasing plan for the campus developments / renovations was also created.