When the Penn State University system sought to design the first-ever residence hall on the Brandywine campus, they partnered with Clark Nexsen’s student life design experts to develop a residential experience that will help attract students and provide a vibrant on-campus experience.

Orchard Residence Hall is the first phase of a Master Plan to create a new residential neighborhood on Brandywine’s campus, transforming this commuter school with first-time on-campus housing. Located behind the academic quad on a pristine, wooded site, the residence hall maximizes space for future residential and academic growth and is sited to enhance campus pathways, providing a gateway to the new student union. Faced with the challenge of establishing a strong sense of place for residents, the building positioning and design strategically create a warm, inviting, and comfortable environment that fosters social interaction between students while providing spaces for study and intellectual growth.

Leveraging the steep and angled topography to anchor the building, two primary forms create interlocking public gathering spaces both inside and outside. With indoor-outdoor connectivity of great importance to the school, the use of glazing maximizes views to the forest and reinforces the building as a symbol of sustainability. Orchard Residence Hall opened in August 2017 as home to more than 250 students, providing a collaborative living/learning environment to stimulate residents both academically and socially.