Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Future Campus Housing Program

California Polytechnic University at San Luis Obispo
SteinbergHart, Whiting Turner, SWA
Project Type
Community Organizing
San Luis Obispo, CA

In collaboration with Steinberg Hart, Designing in Color led the community organizing process for Cal Poly University Housing in order to help define how student voices can be captured and centered in designing new student housing routed in a design justice framework. After the completion of 2035 Campus Plan, the university decided to expand the first-year live-on requirement to include a second-year which will enable students to further engage in the collaborative and innovative learning environment which is a key strategy in the University’s Graduation Initiative 2025 effort. The strong emphasis placed on the student and residential experience required that Cal Poly provide sufficient beds to meet demand for housing as well as a consistent resident experience that centers affordability. As a result, a 10-year strategy was developed which outlines a series of improvement. Coinciding with the development of the 10-Year program, the Design-Build Team and Cal Poly University Housing Staff collaborated to develop a student community organizing process.

Typically, student engagement processes leverage design input devoid of understanding a student’s culture, identity, and background. This results in feedback that extracts information that is not pushing beyond cursory design topics based in aesthetic and not the quality of a space to empower academic success. Below are some preliminary goals the team sought out to achieve during all engagements with students and university housing. DCo produced substantial components of Design Justice Documents to carry commentary and results into new models for future design strategy.

Principles that were explored with students & staff:

  • Create Safe Space for Vulnerable Conversations
  • Developing Spaces for Marginalized Identities to Share Campus Discussions
  • Meet with a Diverse Group of Students Representing Different Affinity and Interest Groups
  • Meet On Campus Where the Students Are to Make Discussion Accessible
  • Lead with Joy and Empathy
  • Educate and Listen, This Process Is Not About Lecturing
Read More Read Less