The renovation of UMass Amherst’s Van Meter Hall, a first year residence hall for visual and performing arts students, repurposes and reinvigorates existing common areas to cultivate a culture of connectedness and interaction. Socializing and study are no longer sequestered to enclosed rooms, but are combined in large upper and lower level lounges, promoting a high degree of student-to-student contact and communication: laundry is paired with study space; built-ins convert to seating for open mic night; large group dinners as well as spontaneous cookie baking are accommodated in the communal kitchen. Creativity and conversation are encouraged by the student art work displays, music and dance studios, and an interactive art wall. Strategic use of color animates each stairwell and breaks up the long residential hallways on the upper floors, and student rooms have been renewed. Van Meter’s traditional architecture is restored and updated with the introduction of transparent walls, vibrant colors, bold floor and ceiling patterns, and dramatic lighting, creating a home for students that fosters creativity, connection, and learning.