Case Study :: Cal Poly Student Housing South

American Direct >> Case Study :: Cal Poly Student Housing South

Cal Poly Student Housing South

General Contractor: Webcor Builders
Location: San Luis Obispo, CA

by Juliette B. Bradley

Young men and women choose where they will attend college based on all sorts of criteria. But for many, committing to a college that is well known for being innovative, diverse, and rooted is extremely important. California Polytechnic (Cal Poly) State University is that school. 

“Learn by Doing” is the school’s mantra and they have certainly learned that providing convenient, yet efficient, housing with views opening to the ring of the Seven Sisters hilltops that surround the campus is critical in helping students feel grounded and appreciated.

The university partnered with the local Northern Chumash tribe to provide direction for creating environmental graphics for each of the residence halls that tell the stories of the landscape of seven Northern Chumash villages along the Central Coast. The goal is to increase students’ respect for the land and its ecosystems, for each other, and for the cultural heritage of the place they live. Each residence hall draws its name from a tribal village. 

The residential community includes 696 single, double, and quad units totaling 1,475 beds for first year students. Common spaces include study areas, large scale living rooms for 50 students or more, outdoor courtyards and circulation routes, a mailroom, recreation center, offices, admissions welcome center, a food market, and a 4-floor 154,000 sq. ft. solar-powered 473-car parking structure. Webcor Builders was the general contractor on this job and they partnered with American Direct to provide the doors, frames and hardware. 

Webcor Project Engineer, Gagan Gowda, says that he received construction documents from the University with some specifications already defined, but he enlisted American Direct to provide value added consultation. “American Direct was our design assist partner on this project to help determine what the hardware specifications should be,” says Gowda. 

American Direct Client Account Manager, Anne Presnal, says this was a mid-size job with more than 1,300 openings across a 12 acre job site. “These dorms cater to the students and their interests including special wetsuit rooms to accommodate the love of the ocean and the academic interest of biological and marine sciences. The campus is just 10 miles from the nearest shore. 

Cal Poly education facilities are always designed and constructed with the environment in mind. Sustainability issues are always considered as plans are put in place to grow the campus. Design teams generate green buildings to reduce or eliminate any negative impact on the environment. The design incorporates a whole-building approach, which results in a more energy-efficient building. 

The Cal Poly student housing buildings are tracking for LEED Platinum certification, the highest certificate level, and the University wants students to be reminded of that every time they use the buildings. American Direct is proud to have provided doors, using wood from forests that were managed responsibly, for this dynamic student housing campus.

As seen in Issue #27 of Total Access Magazine

Project Details

562,746 sq. ft. spans over seven structures totaling 1,475 beds for first-year students.


General Contractor: Webcor Builders

Locks: Best/dormakaba

Hollow Metal Doors: CECO Door Products

Wood Doors: Eggers

Closers: LCN

Exit Devices: Von Duprin