Journal of College & University Student Housing Volume 50, No. 2 - 19

Design and Depression
Prior to the pandemic, there was already a strong economic case
for investing in facilities and programs to support student mental health
and well-being, and modern or updated facilities are commonly
utilized as a recruitment tool.
Residence Hall Architecture
Recent research that investigates the impacts of residence hall architecture on student
outcomes reveals how design shapes or supports constructs associated with social connection.
Differences in the architectural styles of traditional versus suite-style housing
influence the number of social interactions students have (Brandon et al., 2008), and
residence hall design affects residents' tendency to create social bonds with others,
especially for Black students (Brown et al., 2019). However, recent work has suggested
that architectural style alone does not directly influence student outcomes; how buildings
are managed, in terms of the composition of their students, is more predictive
(Bronkema & Bowman, 2017). Programs, services, and supports implemented by residence
life staff are known to influence college student well-being, but the design of
the built environment can also provide significant support for the organizational and
programmatic initiatives of student life departments.
The residential environment has a direct impact on students' level of wellness
(Adams et al., 2000), and the more they identify with their housing, the greater their
psychological well-being will be (Meagher, 2020). In evaluating residents' perception
of the occupied built environment, environmental satisfaction is often utilized as an
indicator for environmental quality in many different contexts: the workplace, healthcare,
higher education, K-12, the laboratory, and private residential environments
(Graham et al., 2021). However, less is known about students' satisfaction with their
residential environments on a college or university campus and what spaces within
these environments influence their well-being. This study intends to address this gap
in the literature.
RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The context of this study is one of seven undergraduate residential colleges at a large
public university in Southern California. With the need to address the rapidly growing
student population in an area where housing costs in the surrounding community are
2.8 times higher than the U.S. average (Cost of Living in San Diego, California, 2021), a
landmark 1.6-million-square-foot living-learning neighborhood, which blends residential
and academic programming and retail outlets, was initiated. The new neighborhood
implements innovative and evidence-based design strategies in the quest for supporting
students' emotional, physical, and social well-being. Example design strategies
applied in the new neighborhood include access to nature to improve mental health
(Kaplan, 2001), multi-modal streets that are not only pedestrian-friendly (Painter,
1996; Sun et al., 2014) but also have bike/scooter paths and parking to encourage
micro-mobility (Fraser & Lock, 2011), strategic staircase placement at prominent sites
of the neighborhood to make the healthy choice the easy choice (Nanda et al., 2016;
16 The Journal of College and University Student Housing

Journal of College & University Student Housing Volume 50, No. 2

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