Sara Stein, AIA, LEED AP BD+C

Academic & Student Life Planning & Design

As an architect, Sara is passionate about enhancing each student's campus experience by creating spaces that fit the way people live and learn today. She is actively involved in EYP’s research on behavioral responses to Living-Learning Environments. Data from these studies are already helping to inform the design of exceptional spaces that support student intellectual, personal, and social development. Sara is a regular speaker at conferences, including Traditional Building, No Name, and ACUHO, as well as a popular guest lecturer on college campuses.


Designing “Learning” into Living-Learning Environments: Alumni Hall at Pace University

by Sara Stein

Girl Studying

The design of Alumni Hall embodies what EYP has learned from previous studies about student preferences in residence halls. While students may appreciate having the latest technological or retail “bells and whistles” in residence halls, their primary preferences, it turns out, are actually much more basic.

The Future of the College Campus

by Sara Stein

University of Michigan North Quad

Colleges and universities are looking beyond traditional planning strategies – including expanding technology, reimagining buildings, and engaging the community – to get the most out of their campuses. Emerging technologies – such as augmented reality, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence – will eventually shape what the physical campus of the future will look like, but not replace it. We'll also likely see an increase in conversations between campus planners and off-campus developers and city councils, maximizing the future of college campuses.

Room Service: Integrating Food into the Residence Hall

by Sara Stein, Mark Warner

Duke University, Wannamaker Quad

Students today live a 24/7 lifestyle, so residential life and campus dining teams are adapting to improve student services, wellness, and opportunities for community engagement. An increasing number of campuses are integrating food into the residence hall – not only in apartments and suite-style units, but also as focused community spaces that serve residents in a variety of ways. Vibrant social spaces with soft seating, flexible furniture, and a kitchen or food-prep area are popular with good reason: food has always served a cultural function – at the center of social occasions and even unifying regions. In a residence hall, integrating community kitchens and/or a food-service function can highlight the importance that food plays in wellness, education and culture. A kitchen can support residential life programming, enable students to share their culinary heritage, and logistically complement somewhat limited weekend or late-night food service elsewhere on campus. Our recent projects with Trinity College, Duke University, and Pace University integrate food service in varying ways to enhance residential life programs and enrich the student experience.

How College Students Use their Residence Hall Spaces and its Contributions to Student Learning

by Sara Stein

North Quadrangle building at University of Michigan

Our research assesses how shared space types facilitate learning within the University of Michigan’s North Quad Academic & Housing Complex.

Living-Learning Research Report: Michigan State University

by Leila Kamal, John Baxter, Sara Stein, Paul King

We systematically investigate the impact of the spatial environment itself on student engagement, perceived experience, and sense of community. Our investigations at Michigan State University build on our living-learning research at the University of Michigan to provide evidence to how the architectural design of college residence halls impacts student engagement and development.

Living-Learning Research Shows Residential Community Spaces Crucial to Student Success

by Sara Stein

Residential community spaces, including lounges and study areas, come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are crucial to the engagement of students within residence halls. In an article for, EYP student life planner Sara Stein shares our research demonstrating the value – to individuals, the campus community, and the institution – of including an adequate number of flexible community spaces.

An engaged student population builds a strong sense of community, which then directly links back to individual student satisfaction. Engaged and involved students are much more likely to stay on campus at their institution, give back to the community at large, and likely contribute back to their campus as alumni.

Living-Learning Research Report: University of Michigan

by Leila Kamal, John Baxter, Sara Stein, Paul King

University of Michigan North Quad

As American colleges and universities increasingly recognize the value of educating the “whole student,” the effect of campus residential life on various student outcomes – campus engagement, peer interactions, etc. – has been the subject of ongoing study. EYP is one of the first to systematically investigate the impact of the spatial environment itself on student development, attitudes, and outcomes. Our Living-Learning research findings offer colleges and universities, as well as architects and builders, key insights into how space types and usage impact student learning and development, so that they can maximize resources to enhance student experience.

Assessing How Living-Learning Environments Within Residence Halls Facilitate Student Learning

by Sara Stein, Leila Kamal, John Baxter, Paul King

North Quad Student Space

The purpose of this study is to assess how key spaces in residence halls (i.e., living-learning spaces vs. traditional residence halls) create environments that are conducive to student learning.

Representative Projects

Atrium with students

Union College

Peter Irving Wold Center


An academic "town square" puts science and sustainability on display.

North Quadrangle Housing & Academic Complex

University of Michigan

North Quadrangle Housing & Academic Complex

Student Life

The Media Gateway and Space 2435 are changing expectations for living-learning communities.

Rendering of atrium

Concordia College

Science Facility


Hybrid "T-search" spaces increase space utilization in the STEM building year-round.


Pace University

Campus Consolidation

Student Life

Closing one of two campuses focused resources on enhancing the collegiate experience.

Exterior view of building at dusk

College of Saint Rose

Centennial Hall

Student Life

Performing at 39% below energy code, this residence hall is more efficient than 77% of the dormitories we're monitoring.

view of dining hall

Michigan State University

Residential College in the Arts and Humanities

Student Life

In addition to creating a major new pedestrian quadrangle, this newly renovated, vibrant living/learning community has become the new heart of this portion of the campus.