Fort Hays State University Schmidt Foundation Center for Art & Design

Exterior photo of the Schmidt Foundation Center for Art & Design at Fort Hays State University taken from the main quad.

Exterior photo of the Schmidt Foundation Center for Art & Design at Fort Hays State University.

A rural campus inspires.

Fort Hays State University’s campus is steeped in history, characterized by its rural charm and iconic limestone-clad buildings. The Schmidt Foundation Center for Art and Design sought to honor this rich heritage while introducing a modern touch, seamlessly blending into the campus’s contextual language.

Exterior of the west façade of the Schmidt Foundation Center for Art and Design.

The design of the new two-story, 43,000 sq.ft. facility was guided by a vision to create a vibrant community hub for art and design. Drawing inspiration from the campus’s architectural patterns, the exterior façade echoed nearby gabled roofs, window patterns, and materials while incorporating contemporary elements. Inside, the layout was carefully crafted to foster collaboration and creativity, with a central atrium serving as the heart of the building.

Photo of the atrium interior.

Creating Arts Community

At the core of the Center’s design was the desire to cultivate a thriving arts community. The double-height atrium connects the two classroom wings, and creates opportunities to create and display art throughout. Floor-to-ceiling glazing along the central atrium showcases learning in action, encouraging the sharing of ideas and sparking interdisciplinary collaboration.

Interior photo of ceramics students working in the classroom.
Interior photo of ceramics students working in the classroom.
Photo of the ceramic's outdoor learning patio with multiple outdoor kilns.

Each learning space is designed to maximize daylight and support the unique needs of its respective disciplines, providing students with the tools and environment necessary for artistic exploration. Specialized classrooms within the north wing include drawing, painting, ceramics, and photography. For example, the ceramics classroom has both an indoor kiln room and a patio with outdoor kilns attached, while the photography classroom has a dark room within.

Interior photo of graphics and motion design students working in the classroom.
Interior photo of graphic design students working in the classroom.
Interior photo of print making students working in the classroom.

The south wing is home to programs such as graphic design, interior design, motion design, and printmaking. The learning and maker spaces were designed for flexibility and to support both individual and group work. Wood ceilings bring a warmth to the interiors, with some classrooms featuring custom-detailed wood slatted ceilings.

Exterior photo at dusk of the enclosed glazed walkway that connects the Schmidt Foundation Center for Art & Design to the Moss-Thorns Gallery.

The Schmidt Foundation Center for Art and Design is connected to the Moss-Thorns Gallery via an enclosed glazed walkway that provides additional opportunities to display student artwork.

Exterior photo of the Moss-Thorns Gallery showing it's historic power plant façade and its relationship to the Schmidt Foundation Center for Art & Design.
Photo of the Moss-Thorns Gallery interior.

Moss‑Thorns Gallery

The Moss-Thorns Gallery is an adaptive reuse of a historic power plant on the campus repurposed to showcase students’ work to the public. It includes a 2,000 sq.ft. addition for art collection storage that seamlessly blends with the original structure’s brickwork.

Exterior photo of the Schmidt Foundation Center for Art & Design on a foggy day, with the Moss-Thorns Gallery seen in the distance.

The strategic placement of the structures, coupled with the thoughtfully designed landscape and walkways, complement the campus axis and connect the Center and the Moss-Thorns Gallery to the main quad.

Photo of the 2nd level interior of the Schmidt Foundation Center for Art & Design with two students sitting in chairs next to glazing that looks out to the campus.

The Center’s massing is oriented for solar optimization and a connection to nature, creating an indoor-outdoor experience that simultaneously inspires its occupants while attracting those outside to enter. Louvers provide sun shading, ensuring the building’s thermal comfort and increasing energy efficiency.

Exterior photo at dusk of the Schmidt Foundation Center for Art & Design.
We've always had incredible design programs and curriculums, and now we finally have a building that reflects that caliber. Thomas Giebler Graduate Student, Fort Hays State University
Location
Hays, KS
Size
43,000 sq.ft.
Client
Fort Hays State University
General Contractor
Paul Wertenberger Construction, Inc.
Photographer
Justin Miers
Multistudio asterisk