Academic Architecture

Jost Hall Student Housing at Tabor College

Jost Hall Student Housing at Tabor College Case Study by WDM Architects 1
Early sketch from Tabor’s team

Creating a Model for Student Housing

In 2020, WDM Architects completed a beautiful 8,500 s.f. Welcome Center at Tabor College. After the successful collaboration, Tabor leadership invited WDM Architects to submit qualifications for a new Student Housing project.  The college has plans to systematically replace existing residence halls with new ones and ultimately add 144 beds to their existing capacity.

Scott Ramser, AIA, Principal at WDM Architects, eagerly pursued the project as principal-in-charge. Ramser understood the project’s importance for student recruitment and retention and looked forward to another opportunity to work closely with Tabor. Luke Scott, AIA, also a Principal at WDM, managed the project to ensure a seamless process similar to the Welcome Center.


“Well-designed student housing can directly contribute to dynamic student life communities that are conducive to continuous academic, spiritual, and social growth, resulting in overall student success,” comments Ramser. “Student housing is an important transition from the family home, to a place that is entirely their own.”

In the summer of 2021, Tabor College engaged WDM on this important project, and the team got to work.

Building on Early Ideas

From the initial meetings, it was evident that Tabor’s project committee had invested significant thought into their project, wanting to create a strong sense of community among students who would be living there. They emphasized the importance of providing common spaces where students could socialize, work together and support each other.

The Tabor team had been playing around with different floor plan ideas and shared them with Ramser and Scott. Some features were insightful, like centrally locating restrooms and lounge areas. However, for fire safety egress codes, some things needed to shift. With those edits, the architects recognized the opportunity to reconfigure the plans so that the lounge areas could include windows. WDM created numerous iterations for consideration and responded to feedback from Tabor’s committee. Over the process, the facility’s plan grew in scale to a more massive four-story building and then back to a 3-story building divided into units that could foster a more family-like atmosphere.


“Probably the number of options we went through was on the upper end of things,” comments Ramser. “It was a lot of just trying to discover what they really wanted. They were just trying to wrap their arms around what kind of environment they wanted to have for their students.”

Creating a Shared Dialogue and Exploring Design Possibilities

To create a shared dialogue and explore design possibilities, WDM Architects invited the Tabor design team to tour peer facilities together early in the process. The collective team liked the casual meeting areas scattered throughout the dorms at Wichita State University. The tours led to the decision to change the location of the laundry room from a laundromat-type out-of-sight area in the basement to an open area on the first floor near the lobby with better visibility and security. Additionally, students can more easily keep an eye on their laundry while doing other things in the lounge or kitchen.

One of the biggest challenges during the design process was finding the right balance between shared and private restrooms. A poll conducted by Tabor revealed a student preference for more private restrooms over the typical dorm facilities that feature a large, shared restroom with multiple shower and toilet stalls. The design team considered en suite restrooms which would meet the request for more privacy but also increase the project’s overall cost and be difficult to access for maintenance or repairs. Ultimately, the idea was rejected because with en suite bathrooms, the responsibility for bathroom cleaning would then fall to students, who realistically might choose not to clean them. Instead, the optimum solution proved to be having groups of individual toilet rooms and shower rooms, each with a sink/vanity and a door with a lock. These are clustered in the center of each bedroom grouping and are easily accessed for cleaning and maintenance by Tabor staff.

WDM’s commitment to achieving Tabor’s vision of an ideal environment for students was evident in the extensive exploration of design possibilities. The final floor plan is designed as a bright, functional, and welcoming environment filled with ample natural light.

Jost Hall Student Housing at Tabor College Case Study by WDM Architects 2

Creating Community, Providing Security

The building is divided into two separate halves, which are mirror images of each other. This configuration has been dubbed as a “duplex.” With the goal of creating supportive and secure family-like units, each half floor of the duplex is home to a group of 12-18 students. Each of these home groups contain a mix of single, double, and triple-person bedrooms, bathrooms, study space and lounge. The mirrored floor plan of each floor features a shared exit stairwell for convenience and safety.

The new student housing is the first building on campus to provide key card security access where access is limited to residents of each specific unit, ensuring privacy and controlled entry.

Scott explains, “Students will have key card access to their designated floor and area of the building. They won’t have unrestricted access to all floors and areas. Unless invited, they can only access their assigned area.”

In response to the committee’s desire for a clear distinction between public and private areas, WDM ensured that the first floor offered ample open spaces to host visitors, such as a lobby lounge and kitchen. However, beyond a certain point in the hallway, a secure access door with key-card entry restricts visitors’ access to private areas.

Students’ main dining is in a dining hall, so the kitchen within the dorm is designed as a limited facility, suitable for suitable for making occasional meals or late-night snacks. Additionally, many students may opt to have a small refrigerator in their bedrooms for personal use.

Reflecting Tabor’s School Spirit in the Interior Finishes

A typical dorm room in the new student housing at Tabor College offers a comfortable living space for double occupancy, measuring approximately 12.5 feet by 17 feet. Each student is provided with a twin bed, a desk for studying, a wardrobe for hanging clothes, and a dresser for storage. Modular wardrobe cabinets were provided in lieu of built-in closets. This layout is designed to maximize flexibility. Tabor College opted for luxury vinyl flooring (LVT) in the dorm rooms, featuring an attractive woodgrain pattern. This choice was motivated by the practicality of LVT, as it is easier to maintain over time compared to carpeting.

The dorm lounges and study spaces, on the other hand, are carpeted in a soothing dark gray shade with blue undertones. The overall color scheme of the dormitories revolves around various shades of gray, ranging from a soft dove gray to a deep charcoal hue. The walls are tastefully painted within this gray color palette, occasionally adorned with accent walls in the school’s distinguished blue color, or complemented by hexagon-shaped tiles in the same hue. Another accent color used throughout the dormitory is a lively lemon-lime shade, adding a refreshing contrast to the modern and stylish environment.

The doors are finished with a wood-grained laminate, which gives the look of wood while creating a durable, low-maintenance surface.

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Exterior Features: Timeless and Charming

Tabor College’s handsome new student housing exudes a harmonious blend of timeless elegance and modern charm. With a dark metal roof gleaming in the sunlight, the building stands proudly adorned with a tasteful combination of red brick and painted dove gray lap siding, accentuated by vertical siding in a deep, sophisticated navy shade. The exterior is impeccably finished with wide trim boards and soffit painted a soft white, adding a touch of refinement to the overall design. To enhance its appeal, cedar roof brackets have been stained, complementing the architecture with a natural and warm touch.

The entry welcomes students with floor-to-ceiling glass panels, allowing abundant natural light to grace the lobby lounge and kitchen areas. The courtyard area is retained by low brick walls, providing tranquil spaces for students to connect with nature on the “front porch” of their home-away-from-home.

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Measure of Success

Tabor College’s new student housing, Jost Hall, has been assigned exclusively to female students and will be first occupied for the Fall 2023 semester. It embodies a perfect balance of aesthetics, security and functionality, offering an exceptional living experience for its student residents.


“WDM has been a great collaborator on this residence hall project,” says Tabor College President David Janzen. “During the design phase we iterated on ideas seeking the perfect resolution of competing goals. Scott and Luke listened well, were patient with our questions and ideas, and they offered sound advice resulting in an outstanding hall that is functional, beautiful and welcoming.”

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Project Overview


305 S. Adams Street, Hillsboro, Kansas


26,315 s.f.


Start: Summer 2021 Completion: Summer 2023

Project Team

Principal-in-Charge: Scott Ramser, AIA Project Manager: Luke Scott, AIA Interior Designer: Angi Womeldorff, IIDA, NCIDQ MEP and Structural Engineering: MKEC Engineering, Inc. Civil Engineering: Evans, Bierly, Hutchinson & Associates, P.A. General Conctractor: Vogts Construction Company

Jost Hall at Tabor College Portfolio Project

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