"You have to design the building to take abuse. You also have to design it to take love,' says Earl Flansburgh, president of Earl Flansburgh and Associates Inc., a Boston-based architectual firm whose dorm design at Worcester (Mass.) Polytechnic Institute won the best United States educational building award last year.Dormitory designers, always concerned with durability and with upgraded materials and increased expertise, continue to press for higher standards in these areas. 'When you think you've made it durable enough, you make it more durable,' Mr. Flansburgh says. "You have to accept the fact that dorm residents will have different personalitites. They will hang things on the wall. They will come home from a party Friday night and they will have broken up with their girlfriends ... and they will come down the hall, pounding the hall. Or they will play corridor hockey." What designers are discovering is that another way to make buildings last is to make them nice. "Students seem to take better care of better quality dorms," says Roy Viklund of Sasaki Associates Inc., an architectural firm that designs an average of three dorms a year. Bill Blackmon, a student at Duke University in Durham, N.C., says dorms he's seen at other universities are often too big, boxy, and sterile. "Dorms at Duke have personality. That's not necessarily cost efficient, but I think people respond better to a better atmosphere." Flansburgh recommends replacing corridors with commons rooms and making dorms more like apartments with bedrooms grouped around a living room. Based on his experience, dormitories take less abuse when laid out this way and in the end cost less because of reduced wear and tear.

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