11/16/2013 01:20 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Best Dorm Ever: In Praise of Artful Campus Living

Think back - way, way back - to the first time you set foot in a college dorm room. If your experience was anything like mine, the space was dreary, depersonalized ... downright bunker-like. (Actually, I slept on a trundle bed.) Even in the 21st century, most dorms continue to be defined by concrete block, blonde wood furnishings, and an overabundance of Jimi Hendrix posters.

Fortunately, change is on the way. Beginning this fall, residents of SCAD's Montgomery House live surrounded by original art and decorative elements - all of it the work of SCAD alumni, faculty, and staff. Monty, as the dorm is fondly called, was constructed on the site of a former industrial warehouse in Savannah's Jackson Park neighborhood.

Where other universities continue to advance a conventional, characterless model of on-campus living, SCAD builds a residential experience that immerses students in the creative communities they're preparing to join. Individual rooms are efficient, defined by layered elements of color, texture, and personality. Carefully considered conference rooms with pin-up boards and green spaces with swings invite students to converse, collaborate, and innovate far beyond the classroom walls.

SCAD's intentional design choices also articulate the depth of the university's commitment to alumni success - notable alumni works in Montgomery House include art by SCAD graduates Matt Hebermehl, Troy Wandzel, Greg Eltringham, Rex Hausmann, Hugo Aguilera, Michael Porten, and Jonathan Yoerger. In the bigger picture, the vibrant alumni creations that surround current residents at Montgomery House serve as a bridge to their future, to a world of new perspectives and points of view that form the foundation of a life well lived in art and design.

While sages wag that college-age students may damage or destroy fine art in their midst, SCAD finds that such proximity helps to cultivate among students a deep appreciation and personal connection to the work that surrounds them. These environments are not in a museum - they're bedrooms, study rooms, gardens, forums for thought and discovery, all used by thousands of students each day. In this digital age, we measure every imaginable element of what our students learn, but where they learn is just as important - and here, as ever, education begins at home.