Anice Hoachlander

Formerly a half-empty retail strip center in Williamsburg, Virginia, the new Midtown Row student housing community establishes strong connections between the College of William and Mary and the town, creates vibrant street-focused retail, and reinforces the lost neighborhood street grid.

Four five-story buildings with 350,000 square feet of contemporary multifamily dormitory-style residential, targeting students and market-rate renters, accommodate over 630 people. Shared amenities in the common areas, on the grounds, and in each building reinforce community and identity. New streets and walkways reconnect the existing road network. Planter-lined wide sidewalks, a dog park, and a central village green generate high walkability within the development, which also links to a community pedestrian/bike lane. Bike stands and a bike service station augment a biker-friendly atmosphere. Balconies and operable glazing for all units provide natural light and ventilation.

Designed by Bonstra | Haresign Architects, the architecture, scaled as a series of modest blocks with tectonic and color expression at corners, establishes entry portals. Deep recesses—finished in brightly hued concrete fiber panels—into the long façades of each building mitigate their mass by creating vertical elements within the horizontal geometry. Those slots bring natural light deep into unit interiors. Color and materiality interpret local context and character with contemporary expression.