The Commons honored with construction and design awards

The Commons, the newest residence hall on Marquette University’s campus that houses nearly 900 students, was recently honored with four construction and design awards. 

The Commons was named one of the top projects of 2018 by The Daily Reporter. According to its website, this newspaper gives out the award as a way to honor those in the commercial real estate industry whose projects met and exceeded expectations in the industry. 

“The Commons really was a big step for Marquette in several ways,” said Daniel Chee, a sophomore in the College of Business Administration and a resident of the Commons. “When you think about style, co-ed floors, and food choices, the Commons is more than just a new McCormick.”

Lora Strigens, vice president for planning and facilities management, has lead Marquette’s Campus Master Plan implementation efforts for the past four and a half years. She said The Commons was the first project she engaged with of Marquette’s Beyond Boundaries from the initial discussions all the way through implementation.

The Campus Master Plan integrates university priorities and serves as a road map for Marquette’s capital projects during the next 10 to 20 years, according to its website.

Beyond Boundaries serves as a strategic plan for capital projects, according to its website.

The central idea of The Commons is creating community, and the project addresses that at every scale,” Strigens said in an email.

Marquette’s effort to curate community within the Commons was recognized by the Milwaukee Business Journal in its 2018 Real Estate Awards.  According to its website, the awards name 19 winners based on best real estate deals and projects, overall success and community impact.

“Elements like the dining hall, the theater, the spiritual spaces and the large common spaces on the buildings’ first two floors that are open and accessible to the campus community all help bring people together,” Strigens said in an email. “The floor layouts feature more functional sleeping rooms with a greater focus on more generous lounge spaces (to) encourage students to build community with others in these ‘neighborhoods’ within the building.”

Chee said one of the first things that stood out to him about his room in the Commons was the room’s design.

“I didn’t expect it to be as minimal as it is,” Chee said. “I really like the simplicity and style of it.” 

The American Society of Interior Designers gave Marquette first place ‘Wisconsin Gold’ for the university’s work on The Commons’ design. 

“One of the first things I noticed about the Commons was how modern but home-y everything is,” said Haylie Ruelle, a sophomore in the College of Health Sciences and a resident on the 12th floor of the Commons. “I think it’s all the big windows, I just don’t feel like I am in a dorm when I am inside.” 

Stigens said when Marquette considered the interior design of the building, it wanted to provide warm and inviting spaces while leaving room for the aesthetics of the building to evolve to avoid becoming outdated over time.

“We wanted to be respectful of the fact that this is home for our students,” Strigens said in an email. “There wasn’t a single time on the project when we made decisions where the team wasn’t thinking about how we could positively impact the student experience or do what was best for Marquette’s long-term future.”

Business Magazine named The Commons Best New Development or Renovation for its education building category.

“The Commons does something that is truly remarkable; it houses nearly 900 students and provides them with all the functionality required of a residence hall, while also creating and environment that is at once homelike and inviting to the community,” Strigens said in an email. “These awards truly belong to the entire Marquette community. I believe we have created something that we can all be very proud of.”