Campus Chic: Parkview Residence Hall

Forget what you know about campus housing. The new Parkview Hall feels more like a home.

By Eric Barton | Photos and video by Doug Garland ’10

Nico Rose took a tour recently of FIU’s new Parkview Hall, and he was looking for things most of us wouldn’t notice. He analyzed the usability of the common rooms. He assessed the flow of the lobby. He took in bathroom placement, bed size and light switch locations.

Rose can’t help it. He’s a 23-year-old grad student studying higher education administration. Someday, he wants to manage residence halls and oversee their construction. His expert take on Parkview?

“It is absolutely amazing,” he said. “I was definitely wowed walking up to it. The aesthetics of the outside, it’s impressive. But once I went inside, I was completely shocked.”

That’s exactly the impression FIU administrators are hoping for when Parkview opens this fall. The idea was not only to build FIU’s best residence hall but to build the state’s finest on-campus housing, says Larry W. Lunsford, vice president for student affairs.

The university spent upwards of $55 million on the 620-bed facility and adjacent 290-car parking garage. Instead of the cinder-block-walled buildings some associate with on-campus housing, FIU wanted a showpiece. Parkview is meant to make a statement: This former commuter school now has an active on-campus lifestyle.

“There are all kinds of studies that show students who live on campus are more likely to graduate,” Lunsford says. “Being a young institution, we’re trying to develop an affinity with our graduates.”

9373952302_6f229ddc2d_bParkview is a symbol of change at FIU, said Lynn Hendricks, interim executive director for housing and residential life. Known once as a commuter school, FIU now boasts eight residence halls with 3,454 beds. The school has added 1,400 beds since 2003. Now nearly 10 percent of FIU undergrads live on campus, creating a more traditional college experience, which was limited at FIU just a decade ago.

To build Parkview, FIU turned to one of its own. Chad Moss ’94, senior vice president of Moss & Associates, is overseeing the project. His company is known for high-end and high-profile projects like Marlins Stadium and the opulent SoHo Beach House tower on Miami Beach.

Moss was a commuter student back in the early ‘90s. There was no football team, and few students lived on campus. He sees now what he’s building and wishes he was a student today.

“This is a personal job for me. It’s your alma mater that you love. It’s my whole life coming full circle,” said Moss, who’s also on the board of the FIU Foundation and employs dozens of FIU graduates at his company. “Let me put it this way, I wish I was one of those kids in there. I would move in there right now.”

Parkview occupies a former parking lot across from the football stadium and next to the campus nature preserve. Rooms to the south have a view of the stadium, and windows facing west look down into the wilds of the preserve.

The design is no doubt striking, with a largely open level highlighted by exposed pillars and floor-to-ceiling glass lobbies. Upstairs, there are large common areas scattered throughout the floors where students can gather at bar-height tables or spread out on couches. Terrazzo floors in the lobbies give a modern look, and wood-plank-style flooring was included in all of the student suites and bedrooms.

Video: Lighting Parkview at night

Built in two sections, a glass bridge connects the east and west halls. The bridge will be decorated with couches and chairs and tables. At the south end of the west hall is the largest of the gathering areas, a community lounge with two-story windows that have a view of striking white beams running outside the glass.

The student suites are meant to set themselves apart from old-style campus housing, said John Tallon, assistant director of facilities. Here, four rooms share a kitchen and living area. They boast something offered in few residence halls: single-student rooms. And best of all, each bedroom has a full-sized bed.

“This is the thing students are most excited about,” Tallon said recently during a tour, pointing at one of the beds. With the plank flooring, a desk, and large window, the room makes the space seem more like an apartment than campus housing.

The design focused on ease of living, with touches like separate AC units that can be adjusted within individual suites, and motion sensor lights everywhere except for bedrooms.

For Rose, his favorite feature is that the design considers what students will do with the space. Common areas off the elevators, where it can be loud, are meant for group activities, while study halls are tucked away from the noise.

Rose, who grew up in Cooper City, will be among the students employed by the new building. He will be Parkview’s assistant residential life coordinator, helping to supervise the undergrad staff. He already has begun thinking about how to use those common spaces.

“We’re going to have programs on personal wellness, scholarships, civic engagements, all kinds of things,” he says. “It’s going to be a whole new level of on-campus housing.”