Case Study: University of Nevada Las Vegas

In Blog, case study, Customizing, Design Resource by Morgan Dix

Summary: DCI partnered with UNLV to deliver a custom designed chaise and loveseat for their upperclass luxury singles.

Case Study: University of Nevada Las Vegas

Project Name: Upper Class Complex

Project Location: Las Vegas, NV

Dates: 2017/2018

Project Size: 120 Sets

Building Type: Graduate Studio Apartment

Project Team: UNLV, AVS, DCI,Inc.

Product List: 120 Love Seats, 120 Chaise Seats


The University of Nevada at Las Vegas was founded in 1957 in Paradise, Nevada less than two miles from the famous Las Vegas Strip. Based on 332 acres, it was originally named the University of Nevada Southern Division.

With 24,702 undergraduates, and over 5,000 postgrads, UNLV surpassed NYU in 2018 as the most diverse school in the United States according to US News & World Report.

UNLV has a robust commitment to research and aspires to rank among the top 100 research universities in the country. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching classifies UNLV as a “research-intensive university.”

To that end, the school has amassed an endowment of $280m, devotes roughly $50 million/yr to research, and confers more than 165 doctorates annually.

UNLV boasts the only law and dental schools in Nevada and hosts the top hospitality program in the United States. Currently the school awards bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in 350 fields and disciplines taught by 850 faculty members.

In 2014, The Atlantic recognized UNLV’s English Department as having one of the nation’s most innovative Master of Fine Arts programs and one of the top five doctoral programs in creative writing.

Sustainability at UNLV

UNLV boasts a growing commitment to sustainability. Since 2001, the school has reduced electricity and natural gas use by 38 percent per square foot by retrofitting older campus buildings.

And it is consistently a strong contender in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon.

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon is a collegiate competition of 10 contests that challenge student teams to design and build full-size, solar-powered houses. The winner of the competition is the team that best blends design excellence and smart energy production with innovation, market potential, and energy and water efficiency.

At the same time, UNLV strives to put sustainable practices in place on campus and in the larger Las Vegas community. In 2011, UNLV partnered with the prestigious Brookings Institute to:

…host “Nevada 2.0: New Economies for a Sustainable Future,” an event that led to the reorganization of economic development in Nevada.

More recently, UNLV established its first official Sustainability Council. The school reports:

The mission of the council is to advance sustainable practices on campus through education, research, activities, development, and operations to make social, environmental, and economic sustainability integral to the culture of UNLV. The council serves as a connection for faculty, staff, and students to collaborate and to create a bridge between ideas and their practical implementation.

Background & Approach

In 2017 and 2018, UNLV was renewing a group of three-story buildings called the Upper Class Complex. DCI had the privilege of working with the school to provide a newly designed line of loveseats with chaise.

This project presented some unique challenges and opportunities. First, UNLV wanted 120 loveseats with chaise to fit in an 78″ wide nook. Second, the school had budget constraints.

Their desired delivery and installation was June 7 – 9th.

Leasing Lounge Furniture

We worked directly with the Director of Operations On Campus, AVS Housing Group, LLC. He was clear upfront that they were interested in leasing options. We presented them leasing options for an upholstered chaise that came close to his specs.

We then came back to UNLV with favorable lease terms for a 3 and 5-year lease, but this again came in over budget. At this point we went back to the drawing board to develop some new options.

We came back to UNLV with the following offer:

  • (1) Chase unit with single arm
  • (1) Armless loveseat. This is so the entire unit can fit in a 78” alcove.
  • Units attach with custom bracket
  • Reversible seat cushions (Fully upholstered seat cushions)
  • Vinyl covering
  • Locks / security straps for seat cushions, so they can’t be easily removed by residents
  • 3 or 5 year lease terms with attractive buyout offer

After a lot of work, we were able to halve the the price from the beginning estimate.

UNLV loved the package. But the story wasn’t over yet. Instead of entering into a 3 or 5 year lease, UNLV requested a 12-month payment option.

One last time, we went back to the drawing board for financing options and gave them a 12-month payment option. The university agreed and everybody won.

Honing The Product

When we build chaise lounge chairs, it’s essential to find out the orientation of the room and whether or not we need to build two versions of the chair. One with a right arm and one with a left arm.

From past experience, we know that most rooms have different orientations (usually flipped) from one another.

In early May 2018 we delivered our first sample to the customer. UNLV approved the design and confirmed that it fit in the apartment alcoves.

This was was a key moment for other reasons as well. Why? Because delivering this first sample helped the University realize that we were installing in rooms with two different orientations.

As a result, we modified the design at the last minute to accommodate.

In early June, we delivered and installed 120 Loveseats and 120 Chaise Seats within UNLV’s desired installation window.