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The success of the Peter J Werth Residence Tower at the University of Connecticut demonstrates the power of designing to promote diverse and inclusive learning communities to help traditionally under-represented students succeed and to incubate future leaders of an equitable society.
As architects, we have an opportunity and responsibility to design welcoming, inclusive places that foster curiosity and collaboration in diverse educational communities. Our work on the Peter J Werth Residence Tower at the University of Connecticut embodies our approaches for creating flexible, human-centered residences that encourage interaction, sharing experiences, and building relationships. We worked closely with program directors and students throughout the project to customize spaces to help residents achieve the objectives of the building's eight women-and-minority-focused learning communities in an environment that maximizes opportunities for their social and academic success.
At the ACUHO-I Virtual Summit on June 23-25, we presented our work with UConn's Learning Community Program to deliver a design-build, learning-community-based residence hall that promotes the success of women and minority students. Principal José Hernández and Associate Principal Amy Daniels were joined by UConn's Director of Learning Community Programs, Melissa Foreman, as well as UConn alumni and former residents Corey Moore and Kianjai Huggan to understand how this building has nurtured and inspired UConn students, Residential Life staff, and Learning Community Program directors.
An integral part of the design was the incorporation of collaboration zones and a makerspace which were "...able to bring students ideas to life no matter their skillset or background that they come from, and with that, it fostered an environment for innovation and creativity." - Kianjai Huggan, UConn '20 BSE ENGR, Makerspace Specialist, Engineering House Alum