Sasaki’s design for 450 new student apartments at St. Edward’s University continues a fifteen-year relationship with the institution that began with campus landscape design.
A subsequent Sasaki master plan identified the site, key campus pedestrian connections, residential districts, and a desired unit type for the residence hall.
The design for this senior level housing derives its courtyard organization from local climate conditions by using building massing and orientation, tree canopies, and verandas to create comfortable exterior micro-climates suitable for the extreme Austin heat.
Student apartments in 4 bedroom, 4 bathroom suites ring a green landscaped courtyard. Along Moody Street, a main campus thoroughfare, the design lifts the building to create a shaded outdoor terrace which is shared between the building lobby, a campus-wide café, and multipurpose room. The structural system consists of wood frame over a concrete podium to maximize efficiency and minimize cost.
The landscape is a continuation of the campus pedestrian network creating a link between residential districts and spaces for outdoor programming of passive recreation and celebratory events. Both landscape and building materials are an efficient interpretation of the existing campus palette, utilizing true stucco and campus standard brick and pavers.
At St. Edward’s, the primary climate challenge was to create a place providing relief from the intense Austin, Texas heat. Initial climate analysis highlighted the benefit of providing shade and breezes to both lower the perception of daytime temperature and to utilize the wide daily temperature swing to refresh spaces heated during the day with cool evening air. With the guidance of Klimaat we designed a courtyard building with many ground level portals channeling winds into the central open space. These portals—through climate modeling—were sized and shaped to create spaces that were comfortable for a range of activities from passive newspaper reading with full shade and gentle breezes to music performance with stronger directed wind. Additionally building massing and heights were varied to generate winds that tumble into and refresh the courtyard. Public spaces within the building are organized around exterior portals that provide shaded open space which support activities that are in alignment with interior programming.
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