Western Real Estate Business

SEP 2018

Western Real Estate Business magazine covers the multifamily, retail, office, healthcare, industrial and hospitality sectors in the Western United States.

Issue link: https://westernrealestatebusiness.epubxp.com/i/1027244

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Page 62 of 82

60 • September 2018 • Western Real Estate Business www.REBusinessOnline.com STUDENT HOUSING STRATEGIES Experts recount the latest innovations when it comes to keeping students safe and happy. ROBOTICS — THE FUTURE OF STUDENT HOUSING CONSTRUCTION By Magued Eldaief, CEO, Prescient College campuses across the coun- try are in a constant state of flux. Classrooms and academic spaces are changing, costs are rising and myriad factors are forcing universities to rede- fine the student experience. Student housing finds itself in the middle of this ever-evolving atmosphere. As the demand for state-of-the art student amenities escalates and an in- creasing number of colleges are using housing as a marketing tool to attract the best and brightest students, new dormitories top the wish lists of uni- versities around the nation. Residence hall design is also being jolted by technology. While mobile computing, ever-present internet connectivity and distance learning all affect how, when, and where students learn, advances in technology can ease on-campus con- struction woes, too. While opportunity exists, on-cam- pus construction presents unique challenges not shared by other con- struction projects — with little room for error. On-campus projects need to attract top student talent while remaining on schedule, on budget and minimizing disruption to its sur- rounding areas. Amenities Galore! Increasingly, lavish amenities are becoming signatures of student hous- ing as students are beginning to de- mand more value from where they live. Ubiquitous internet connectivity is just one of the residential ameni- ties that colleges are using as selling points to lure students. For example, Uncommon Fort Col- lins, a recently completed student housing project for Colorado State University, features a fitness room complete with weights, cardio equip- ment, a ski simulator and a rock climb- ing wall, two outdoor courtyards, a lounge and a business center. While these amenities may appear excessive to their bill-paying parents, university officials say they're fiercely competing for top student talent, so they strive to give them what they want. Many universities view housing as an extension of their brand, conse- quently, on-campus housing is being designed to offer amenities rivaling market-rate apartments that compete for student renters. As a result, build- ers are considering how to incorpo- rate luxurious amenities earlier in the design process. Advances in 3D build- ing information modeling (BIM) have allowed the structure and engineering details that will eventually be built on site — including state-of-the-art ame- nities and academic and social spaces — to be captured in a fully detailed, 3D virtual model during the earliest stages of the design process. This ad- vance enables architects to use soft- ware to model the structure as part of their typical project design workflow, in addition to driving efficient and expedited layout, design and system coordination. School Construction Zones Due to the nature of on-campus projects, the ability to keep surround- ing areas "out of the construction zone" is crucial. Loud machinery and chatty construction crews create dis- tracting noises that aren't conducive to a positive learning environment, and at the end of the day, students pay to come to campus and learn. Another technological advance working to generally improve student housing construction while minimiz- ing disruption to the areas surround- ing an on-campus project is the use of robotics. With lean manufacturing robotic systems, assembly proceeds according to engineered shop ren- derings created by advanced BIM software, building a digital plan that guides the assembler and highlights parts by order of assembly. Automated robotic welding sys- tems work directly from the architect's model, allowing systems to fabricate building components before they ar- rive on site, which makes on-site in- stallation easier than ever before. Building a brand new student resi- dence on campus rather than simply assembling one is far less appealing to facilities directors when it comes to disruption. Building from scratch, on site is significantly more disruptive than buildings that only need to be bolted together. The Bottom Line A crucial factor in determining which company will or won't receive a school construction bid is the bottom line. The majority of universities de- pend on state and federal funds, in ad- dition to tuition payments. This leads to construction budgets that are often rigid, with little to no wiggle room. Many construction companies struggle to keep student housing proj- ects under budget, but advancements that utilize robotics or automation are not only making job sites safer and projects faster to build, but these sys- tems typically make the completion of a student housing project less expen- sive, too. When it comes to student housing projects, budgetary issues re- sulting from waste, rework, unreliable crews and poor quality are untenable. However, advances in construction technology have opened the door for projects to be completed on bud- get. The level of precision unlocked by manufacturing robotics systems drastically reduces on-site waste and eliminates the need for costly and time-consuming rework in the field as building components do not need be cut and built on site — they are sim- ply installed using QR codes to help on-site crews complete projects in less time, with fewer people. On-Schedule Production When it comes to student housing, universities have very strict deadlines, because when classes start, students need somewhere to stay. Construction methodology that enables technolo- gies like BIM is ideal for these time- sensitive, multiunit projects because of its 3D scalable design aspect. When builders know the precise measure- ments and outcome of a project, the need for rework is greatly reduced. Time-consuming, repetitive work that requires heavy lifting and preci- sion is the ideal task for automated robotics systems. By receiving precise specifications and dimensions for ev- ery component, manufacturing ro- bots progressively shape high-quality building components that yield an unmatched level of precision. Manu- facturing robots are able to punch, dimple and cut building materials to precise measurements for assembly into entire building components like wall panels and trusses. Working with steel framing unlocks a level of preci- sion that allows for improved struc- tural stability, meaning mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) trades- people can begin work much earlier than with concrete structures. Automated robotics systems allow for the creation of a seamless process — from design through installation. From eliminating costly rework to phasing in MEP tradespeople to be- gin working sooner, advances in con- struction technology are beginning to ensure student housing projects stay on time and on budget. Uncommon Fort Collins, a recently completed student housing project for Colorado State University, features a fitness room complete with weights, cardio equipment, a ski simulator and a rock climbing wall, two outdoor courtyards, a lounge and a business center. Uncommon Fort Collins near Colorado State University.

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