Tag Archives: student housing

Manzanita Hall a 2015 Design Is…Award Market Winner

Shaw Contract Group conducted interviews with all firms representing Market-Award winning projects from the 2015 Design Is…Award program. As part of this process, we share a portion of the response on our blog for readers to learn more about the winning projects.  These are their stories.

Here, Stephanie LaVoy addresses the design process for Manzanita Hall in Tempe, AZ.


Describe this project in one word.


How does this project demonstrate how design can impact users in a space?

The design team was challenged with modernizing a 1967 building, making it more functional and welcoming to students, while maintaining the historic architectural character.  The common areas were opened up, connecting previously segmented areas, creating more cohesive communal amenity areas that are so important in a modern residential hall.

The addition of the two story lounges connects residential floors to foster community interaction.  the lounges span between the unused exterior interstitial space of the building, exposing the original triangular lattice structure.  These neighborhood spaces provide residents with communal kitchens, lounges, laundry facilities and study rooms & encourage student interaction.


Design is a process. Explain your journey.

The design team began with learning about the history of Manzanita Hall, analyzing the functionality and where improvements could be made that would impact student life.  The team was sensitive to the iconic quality of the existing structure and worked hard to incorporate existing elements where appropriate, like the original terrazzo tile, and to echo the unique geometry of the structure with custom carpeting, lighting and artwork.  It was also important to balance the striking architectural elements & bold use of color and pattern to use a subtle finish palette of white, silver and grey.


What are the most important lessons you’ve learned through this project that you’d want to share with the designers of tomorrow?

There are always unexpected issues when working with an existing structure, it’s important to be flexible and problem-solve when issues arise & find the most salient elements in order to maintain the integrity of the design.

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