Sacred Heart University’s new residence hall welcomes and encourages its residents by creating communities within communities so that students of every sort can find a place of their own. Its modern design is at once striking and warm, a home away from home.

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The Fairfield, Connecticut, campus’s 216-bed, 87,000-square-foot residence hall is named after Pope Francis, born Jorge Bergoglio. It is broken into “villages” consisting of small groupings of four-bed suites that share a neighborhood lounge and kitchen along with other amenities.

Students can gather in their local small lounges or in a dorm-wide commons on the first floor adjoining the building entries. This three-story space is paneled with maple and highlighted by a 12-foot-wide bluestone fireplace. The commons abuts a 1,400-square-foot fitness center, a state-of-the-art gaming room, and multi-purpose meeting and social rooms.

Two residential wings spread southward from the main entrances and public space to form a protected outdoor courtyard. At the end of each residential wing is a glass stair tower that faces toward the main campus to frame the space in light at night. A long glass-canopied porch entry at the opposite end also offers a warm glow and promises shelter in all weather. The courtyard’s lawn gently slopes southward, surrounded by gardens and bioswales, to make a warm sunny place even in winter.

The building’s exterior continues the palette of the new College of Business across Jefferson Street. Both buildings use copper and iron-spot brick to bring a strong, common identity to the campus at its northern entrance. The glassy front displays the warmth and activity within, illustrating that the University is a friendly and exciting place.

Photography © Peter Aaron/OTTO