New Student Life Facilities Enable UCLA Housing Guarantee

Date Posted: 04.25.2022

With the completion of significant Mithun-designed student life facilities totaling more than 4,000 beds, UCLA has cleared its housing waitlist and will be able to guarantee housing for all interested first-year and transfer students starting this fall. It is the first and only University of California campus to do so.

California has been grappling with an affordable college housing crisis, with more than 16,000 students in the state’s university systems on waiting lists for housing at the start of the academic year. While other campuses have struggled to expand residential capacity in step with enrollment growth, UCLA has managed to construct ample housing by redeveloping on-campus sites, building densely, and leveraging favorable financing.

The Mithun team has been working with UCLA to plan and design campus housing for two decades. Building on campus master planning collaborations with the university, the firm’s most recent campus developments include Lot 15 Residence Halls, two residence halls with 1,800 beds that opened in Fall 2021 as Olympic and Centennial halls, and Southwest Campus Apartments, an apartment-style development that is currently under construction and will be home to 2,602 graduate and undergraduate students later this year. A separate apartment project, Gayley Heights, rounds out the wave of development that is enabling UCLA’s housing guarantee.

“High-quality, affordable campus housing helps students access and take advantage of everything that UCLA has to offer,” said UCLA chancellor Gene Block. “The completion of these halls and other construction in the works bring us closer than ever to being able to guarantee housing to every interested freshman and transfer student.”

From Lot 15 Parking to Olympic and Centennial Halls
Constructed on the site of the university’s Lot 15 parking, Olympic and Centennial residence halls have expanded student life on campus with 1,800 new undergraduate beds, multiple study spaces, a new dining hall, maker space with state-of-the-art equipment, computer lab and great views from the Hill that stretch to the Pacific Ocean on clear days. Both halls offer triple-occupancy rooms and are 100% full this year.

Respecting adjacent properties at the campus edge, Olympic and Centennial Halls are organized around protected native landscape courtyard spaces and a centralized three-story study and maker commons. This new center of student academic gravity provides spaces for innovation and entrepreneurial exploration as well as focused study and social gathering to unite living and learning experiences for UCLA students.

The buildings’ names reference UCLA history and future. Olympic Hall alludes to Los Angeles’ hosting of the Olympic Games in 1984 and 2028, when UCLA Housing will provide housing and dining accommodations as the Olympic and Paralympic Village. Centennial Hall is named for the celebration of the university’s 100th year in 2019, when the project broke ground.

The two buildings received LEED Gold certification earlier this year.

Southwest Campus Apartments Expands the Weyburn Community
Currently in construction, Southwest Campus Apartments consists of three residential buildings that define a series of linked courtyards with lush landscape, indoor/outdoor connections and grand arcades. Like Weyburn Commons and Paseo across the street, this design translates the Mission Revival tradition of the surrounding building fabric to a group of eight- and nine-story mid-rises. LEED Gold certification is anticipated.

The buildings will be home to 2,602 students in two- and four-bedroom suites. At the heart of the community is a 4,500 sf multi-purpose room serving building residents with a demonstration kitchen and diverse settings for socializing and study. The university also envisions it as a place where employers can gather to meet and recruit graduate students.

Research consistently reinforces the importance of on-campus living to students’ satisfaction and academic success. A University of Oregon study of 34,000 full-time students determined that first-year students who lived in campus housing achieved higher cumulative grade-point averages, and are more likely to remain in school and graduate than their peers that live off-campus. In addition, students living on-campus reported more satisfaction with life, had a higher sense of social belonging, engaged in more extracurricular activity and sought out campus resources for help more often than students living off-campus.

“Olympic and Centennial Halls help catalyze learning in new ways for UCLA students,” said Mithun design partner Brendan Connolly, AIA. “We know the majority of learning in the higher education campus setting occurs outside of the classroom. The infusion of innovation and teaching space, study spaces and gathering opportunities both inside and out in this project will activate new pathways of learning and access to STEM thinking for more diverse populations of students. It’s been thrilling and heartening to transition from remote learning and now witness these academic spaces alive with inquiry and activity.”

Explore additional student housing communities designed by Mithun.