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Keene State College's new freshman housing facility that incorporates a dorm with common and classroom space has been honored by the American Institute of Architects New Hampshire Honor Award. (COURTESY)

Keene State earns award for new living-learning building


KEENE — Keene State College’s new freshman housing facility that incorporates a dorm with common space and classroom space has been honored with an American Institute of Architects New Hampshire Honor Award.

The Living & Learning Commons houses 348 freshmen students. The first floor of the building has classroom space where 19 classes are taught.

Living learning communities centered around students’ interests and majors include American Democracy Project, Building Excellence in Science and Technology, Communication and Philosophy, Film Studies, Graphic Design, Health and Wellness, History, Honors Program, Music, Nature and Sustainability, and Women’s and Gender Studies.

The idea behind living learning communities on college campuses is fairly new, said Frank Mazzola, Keene State director of physical plant, and they are known to increase both enrollment and retention at colleges.

“The more that a first-year student engages with the college — and that includes both with his or her instructors, their social network in the college and with their peers — the more apt they are to be successful and persevere through those next three years,” Mazzola said.

Boston-based Perkins + Will was the architect on the project. The contractor was Engelberth Construction, which has offices in Keene and Colchester, Vt. Rist-Frost-Shumway Engineering P.C., of Laconia, was the civil engineer.

The building was designed to help fulfill Keene State’s commitment to sustainability, with an energy-efficient design that saves on energy costs.

“We are also proud to provide an environment that helps our students reach their fullest potential — the addition of this building is a significant effort that delivers on this promise,” Keene State College President Dr. Anne Huot said. “The new residence building helps first-year students pursue their interests and engages them in activities and conversations that help them to achieve their academic goals while making connections in the classroom and beyond. The communities in this building help to chart a path forward for students during college and after graduation.”

The Living & Learning Commons was opened in the fall of 2016.

This is the third time the college has been honored with this award, Mazzola said.

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