First Year Residence Hall

Nested scales of community foster belonging and community amongst first-year students.

130,000 SF


Denver, CO


2022 Award of Merit, AIA Colorado
2022 Award of Merit in Sustainability, AIA Colorado
2021 Engineering News-Record Best Project Winner for Higher Education
2021 Association of General Contractors ACE Awards, Bronze Award for Best Building Project Over $70M

University of Denver

The 500-bed First Year Residence Hall was designed and built in concert with the adjacent Community Commons building. Both projects support the DU Impact 2025 vision, aimed at cultivating a modern, global university that fosters an inclusive community, preparing students to lead lives of impact.

The Residence Hall is designed around nested scales of community, organized into identifiable scales that allow students to gradually build relationships and a sense of belonging. The architecture supports scales of community that begin with double rooms grouped around shared interior porches, which aggregate to pods of approximately 12 rooms. The pod size of approximately 24 people mirrors the University’s seminar class size, reinforcing a group size which allows students to meaningfully engage with peers. First-year students form a sense of identity and belonging within their immediate pod. As they develop relationships, students are empowered to become active participants within the broader community. A playful two-story bridge element and courtyard designed for campus gatherings of the full University first year class of 1500 people provide larger spaces to gather.

The building’s form and materiality support DU’s vision of inclusion by utilizing contextual campus materials configured in new ways that emphasize openness and approachability. Brick and copper are used as the primary façade and roofing materials, grounding the building in the existing fabric. The campus brick blend is re-sorted into striated bands and campus standard concrete is reimagined with a warm bush-hammered finish. The undulating wings and roof forms of the building shape a dynamic, landscaped ground plane which establishes the project as a gateway connecting the edge of campus to food and student services in the Community Commons.

In collaboration with Moore Ruble Yudell

"We wanted the space itself to become a potential intervention for some of the major challenges facing our students."

Liliana Rodriguez
former Vice Chancellor of Campus Life and Inclusive Excellence, University of Denver

"How do we build the residential spaces to complement what we’re trying to do in terms of our academic mission?"

Liliana Rodriguez
former Vice Chancellor of Campus Life and Inclusive Excellence, University of Denver

“The pods will be the foundation of the residential experience. The idea is to have students surrounded by others who both complement and challenge them.”

Liliana Rodriguez, University of Denver

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