The Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture & Design awarded Southeast Community College’s Academic Excellence Center 2022’s American Architecture Award. This award is only given to a select number of projects across the country each year. The project was a collaborative design effort by Multistudio out of Kansas City, Missouri, and BVH Architecture out of Lincoln, Nebraska.
Conceived as a “machine for learning,” the Academic Excellence Center is a 52,000 sq. ft. STEM facility that will be the first building constructed in a campus revitalization master plan for a small community college in rural Beatrice, Nebraska.
Southeast Community College was focused on driving interdisciplinary programming, student-faculty interaction, and industry engagement. To address this goal, the design team organized all programs around a pedestrian street from which ‘cul-de-sacs’ connect classrooms, studios, and office programs. Interior transparencies place learning on display, connecting flexible learning spaces to open areas for student-teacher collaboration.
The building celebrates and emphasizes the rural vernacular of Nebraska through color, texture, rhythm, and scale, both inside and out. The exposed structure of the metal grain silo and the way light filters through the porous walls of nearby wooden barns pays homage to the state’s agricultural history. The organization of the building supports wellness through a connection to nature by providing panoramic views of the pastoral setting beyond.
“Throughout this project, we embraced the idea that contemporary design can efficiently enhance and promote student learning experiences, creating connections between students, their ideas, and the community,” said Design Lead and Multistudio Associate Principal Kelly Dreyer, AIA. Dreyer states, “we are honored to have the Chicago Athenaeum award this project an American Architecture Award. Seeing the work of our peers with this distinction, we feel energized to continue pushing the design envelope and collaborating on spaces that are both lasting and inspirational.”