Building Community

TechTastic: Additional Research

30, نوفمبر 2010

Below is qualitative research we collected through interviews to offer insight into possible solutions outside of a redesigned floor plan.

Interview with Freshman Dorm Resident

Interview with Freshman Dorm Peer Leader

Interview with Freshman Dorm Hall Director

Interview with Suite Resident

Interview with Suite Resident Advisor

Interview with Apartment Resident

Interview with Apartment Resident Advisor

Our project is based around the idea of Communal Living, and how private living spaces can have a community feel.

Elevator Pitch:

For: College students who want to become acquainted with more people on their floor and for people who are trying to create a better sense of community in their building.

Why: Most apartment and suite style buildings do not have the great sense of community that is common in freshman dorms. Communities are also slowly becoming more and more isolated with urbanization, and in order to promote a bigger sense of unity something must be done to merge or balance private life with social life.

Innovation: Redesign floor plans or apartment set up in order to impose more unification amongst the residents.

Function:  The change in floor plans will cause residents to be more compelled to socialize with fellow residents.  The new design will create a more interactive environment that serves as a community rather than isolated units.

So that: People living in apartments or suite style dorms will regain the positive community atmosphere that was present while living in the freshman dorms.



One of the biggest issues in today’s living environment is the growing lack of a sense of community due in part by urbanization. Our goal as a group was to find a mock representation of this issue in our environment so as to observe and draw conclusions that would render a solution in the form of an innovation. We found the residence halls around campus to be a workable representation of this issue.

It is widely acknowledged and advertised that the Freshman Experience supported a greater sense of community than any other living areas around campus, so we had in mind to set the freshman dormitories as our basis to draw comparisons from. However, first we had to collect data to support this view, so we developed a simple survey in which we asked residents from different style communal spaces to name as many residents they knew that resided in their building. Whichever living space produced the greatest amount of responses, (which we assumed would directly correlate with the average number of names recalled) we determined to represent the ideal living environment for a community.

The second part of the research involved taking pictures of the setup of each style of residence hall, with special attention to arrangement and places where residents could interact. This included areas such as kitchens, bathrooms, hallways, and lounges.

Data & Results:


The above graphs summarize the results from the survey data below. The sample is of 40 rooms from a freshman dormitory (Perry), a suite (Woodruff South), and an apartment (Eighth Street South), each being representative of their respective living spaces. The surveys were conducted between the hours of 7pm and 9pm on a Saturday night when most residents were believed to be present. As hypothesized, the freshman dormitory had the greatest number of responses and average number of names recalled. Next in line was the suite followed by the apartment. The data definitely supported our hypothesis; however, more research should be conducted and data collected to ensure reliability.

Survey Data

Group member Hyuk Jin Yoon’s Testimony:

I am currently living in Glenn, one of the male freshman dormitories on east campus.  Glenn has two different kinds of rooms. One is the two-person room, and the other is four-person room.  The room where I am assigned is a four-person room separated into two rooms where second is placed in the very corner of the hallway. Because it is placed in the corner side, our room’s interaction with other residents is very isolated. I do not know anybody’s name living on my floor except for my roommates and PL. This occurs with my three other roommates as well due to our room being far from the main hallway. In my opinion, space structure is what makes residents more communal or not.

Freshman Dormitory Living Space (Perry)

Suite Living Space (Woodruff South)

Apartment Living Space (Eighth Street South)

The pictures compiled into the YouTube videos in addition to Yoon’s account above add explanation to the results obtained in the survey. The freshman dormitories are more communal in arrangement. A large bathroom and kitchen is shared with most of the hall and select lounges are frequented by residents from all over the building. The room setup is more open and inviting to strangers and encourages interaction when doors are left open. This works adversely with apartments, on the other hand, due to the amount of empty space in which an inhabitant is less likely to be seen as well as the many separators present (doors). The same can be said for suites in this regard. The one thing that gives suites greater means of interaction in terms of setup would be the communal kitchens and large lounges, which the apartments lack. Due to these observations slight changes in floor plans could be the best probable solutions.

Further Research:

Though we would like to call our research a done deal, other significant observations were noted that could better our research if incorporated. A lot of people in the upper classman living spaces kept the people they lived with as freshman in their social circle for instance. This was particularly common with athletes, and further supports the sense of community that the freshman dormitories build. Also, research needs to be performed in how communities are built more in light of social setting and not just building arrangements like the ThinkBig program at Tech focuses on.


20, نوفمبر 2010

Group Members: Michael Jones, Sarah Brand, Gita Khote, Hyuk Jin Yoon

Global Issue: Live/Work Space, Communal Living

Area of focus: How community-oriented living spaces differ from private living spaces, and how private living spaces can be structured in more of a community sense.

How do we plan on researching this topic?

We plan to research this topic by focusing on these aspects prevalent in the residence halls across campus. The freshmen experience halls appear to have more of a community feel whereas the apartments and suites seem to be more isolated.

What is the field activity that your team is planning?

For the field activity we plan to survey residences in freshmen dorms, suites, and apartments for how many names of residents they can give, which would indicate how many people they know and interact with. We will also take photographs of each living space to compare how they differ in terms of space and setup. More ideas may come to us along the way, but for now this is our starting point.