How do you make four acres of land provide affordable housing for 2,200 students and faculty in not-too-tall buildings on an existing college campus?

That was San Jose State University's request of Niles Bolton Associates, an Atlanta-based architecture firm.

Four years later: Mission accomplished. Campus Village, the $200 million, state-bond-funded project, is set to open this month with 530 units and 2,277 beds.

"This is a significant structure for us, both physically and also as a change in philosophy," says Tony Valenzuela, the university's associate vice president of facilities and operations. "We are changing to more residential students on campus. We have not changed our dorms in 25 years."

  Valenzuela says the 28,000-student campus had only 1,900 beds before the project and leveled 700 beds' worth of dorms to create Campus Village.

Design-wise, the architects had to temper the height with eight-story buildings in front of the central 15-story central tower, says project manager Ed Palmer.

Inside, the project is divided up by residents, with freshmen sharing the 76 freshmen suites while upper-class students have their own rooms but share common areas. The project provides individual apartments for faculty.

  On the ground, Campus Village offers retail stores, an activity center with Silicon Valley-worthy technology, and two courtyards, one for students and a quieter one for faculty.

"Campus Village is pretty much all leased up," Palmer says. "Even established faculty [are] moving back to campus. I think they like the idea of living on campus in a more pedestrian-friendly environment."

–Erin Massey