CHICAGO, IL – Chicago-based Mary Cook Associates (MCA), an award-winning national commercial interior design firm, announces that it has completed the interiors of CANVAS, an 826-bed off-campus student housing community that opened opened in August 2021 in Tempe, Arizona, near Arizona State University, and released images of the project for the first time today.
MCA worked with project developer Toll Brothers Campus Living to develop the CANVAS design concept and space plan and program common areas and amenities that promote wellness, creativity, focus and relaxation . The design considered the lifestyle of the project’s college-aged residents to provide the kind of amenities, technology, and opportunities for people-to-people interactions that resonate with Gen Z.
“Regardless of the industry we design for, our team starts first and foremost with the psychographics – the values, attitudes, interests and aspirations – of the end user,” said Mary Cook, President and founder of MCA. “With CANVAS, our research approach has resulted in a one-of-a-kind project that speaks to Gen Z’s desire for authentic connection and is tailored to the student experience of its residents. We recently had the opportunity to walk through the completed project after it opened last fall, and it was incredibly rewarding to experience first-hand how the students were using these spaces and to hear their positive reaction to our design vision.
Cook noted that an important element of CANVAS is the flexible zones it offers for student interaction and collaboration strategically located throughout the building, including a variety of social zones, seating/study pods multifunctional and “uber lounges” on the main level. Also on the main level, a dedicated coffee area – with coffee service including a cold brew faucet – includes space for scheduled events as well as access to an interior courtyard to take full advantage of the Arizona climate.
With ASU’s technology-focused majors in mind, MCA maximized the entrance area’s two-story volume by adding a mezzanine to the project’s original design – creating a “think tank” where students can access computer equipment and technology for specific majors such as architecture and engineering, as well as study spaces equipped with shared screens and other collaboration tools.
“Gen Z is very tech-focused, but they also love being around other people and making real connections,” Cook explained. “This group won’t be keen on using a computer lab that is self-contained as a separate room, so we’ve created this area as a ‘tech lounge’ where students can access high-tech computer equipment. they need, but in a community setting that is inviting and engaging.
The 7th floor of the project is dedicated to socializing and recreation, with a multifunctional club room that opens via a hammock lounge onto a resort-style pool deck with sweeping views of the ASU campus. CANVAS’ upper level also includes a dedicated podcast recording studio, a state-of-the-art gaming lounge with seating for players and spectators, a fitness center with a group workout room, and a spa area containing a nail bar, sauna and spray tanning booth.
“Whether it’s creating something fun and unexpected like the hammock lounge, or dialing in a specific activity like creating podcasts and other content, we’ve tackled amenity spaces and the programming through the lens of these young adults who are living on their own for the first time,” Cook said. “As a result, CANVAS has a boutique, personalized feel that really resonates with this generation of students who appreciate the individuality.”
To build engagement and increase referrals via social media, MCA also created an interactive wall in the lobby featuring the CANVAS logo featuring hundreds of pegs, which students sign when they sign a lease, creating a ” Instagrammable” that residents can share.
“From market-priced multifamily to student housing, residents today want to interact and share their experiences in a property through social channels,” Cook added. “Infusing these kinds of moments has become an important tool not only for differentiating a building’s personality for residents, but also for connecting with prospects through those same channels.”
CANVAS is one of five recent and upcoming student housing interiors projects from MCA. The company is currently working in partnership with developers on projects near the campuses of the University of Central Florida, Florida International University, University of Tampa and University of Notre Dame.
To view images from CANVAS, click here.
About Mary Cook Associates: Founded in 1986, Mary Cook Associates (MCA) is a fully integrated interior architecture and design firm, nationally known for creating innovative interiors for leading property owners and developers. The company’s projects include multi-family homes, model homes, student residences, senior residences, lodges, restaurants and hospitality environments. MCA’s work emphasizes functionality, showcases possibilities, and provides measurable return on the environment (ROE℠). MCA’s team includes more than two dozen designers and architects who are strategic, imaginative and adept at designing a wide variety of spaces that respond to the demographic, geographic and lifestyle influences of target markets. Smart, functional spaces that connect immediately with their users and drive Living Better by Design℠, increase property value, and accelerate sales and occupancy rates are hallmarks of the results MCA consistently achieves. Currently celebrating its 35th anniversary, the firm continues its national presence with award-winning work that spans 36 states. www.marycook.com