CTE Spaces: Focusing on Community & Industry Needs

BVH has been involved in dozens of CTE projects in the past decade and we have seen overriding themes that are consistent markers of success for our clients. These include:

In this blog post, we want to focus on the final point, which is often overlooked. Highly successful schools start the process of engaging the community, both locally and more broadly, very early in the process. Many try to build these as they are designing, or worse yet while construction is underway. This will inevitably lead to time delays, changes, and increased costs. Starting months and in some cases years before the start of design is ideal so that the school community is built collectively and comprehensively. This also creates a great opportunity for increased support in terms of funding, programming, and curriculum development.

Some examples of community partnerships building include:

Sandy Creek High School | Fairfield, NE
In building the curriculum and dream of the Nebraska Center for Advanced Professional  Studies (NCAPS), the school reached out and connected with 80+ industry partners to help inform their various pathways. In a community population of 6,200 with 115 students at the high school, they had to reach both close and distant partners to make all the connections work.

Lincoln Public Schools ‘Bay High’ | Lincoln, NE
Skate + Music + Fashion: LPS partnered with nonprofit Rabble Mill, known for its unique approach to serving underserved youth to create this focus CTE program. Bay High’s mission is to provide creative, entrepreneurial-minded students with the tools, access, and stewardship to be successful creators of tomorrow. It doesn’t hurt to have someone like legendary skateboarder Tony Hawk in your launch in addition to 12 community partners (including BVH).

Fremont Public Schools Career Center | Fremont, NE
Fremont Public Schools (FPS) is pulling together both industry and community college connections to build its new CTE Center. Industry partners helped to inform the programs and curriculum that help create career connections with local industries in robotics, construction, automotive, health, and fabrication industries. Metro Community College (MCC) and FPS have a long-standing partnership wherein students have opportunities to earn college credit while in high school and have a direct pathway to MCC to further their education.

Umoⁿhoⁿ (Omaha Nation) Public Schools | Macy, NE
In this reservation community, Omaha Nation Public Schools (UNPS) has created a CTE facility that will help foster community revitalization at the core of a challenged community. With limited local industry or community resources, UNPS envisioned a facility that would fulfill community needs in the areas of automotive technology, construction, early childhood learning, and healthcare, while creating career opportunities for students at the same time. Dining and shopping options were once a 45-minute drive outside of town. Now a local cafe and community store help foster community and local craft sales all within the school facility.

We at BVH are excited about the future of education and the emerging potential that CTE pathway spaces are creating for students and communities. Drop us a line if you have any insight or questions we can help you with as you think about your Career & Technical Education or Pathways facilities.

Check out our recent webinar for the Nebraska Council of School Administrators!

Recent BVH CTE Projects:
Lincoln PS/Southeast Community College – The Career Academy
Lincoln PS Zoo School Science Focus Program
Lincoln PS Bay High
Lincoln PS Northstar HS Aviation CTE Addition
Centennial PS
Lexington PS
Omaha Nation PS
Fremont PS
Wisner PS
Cross County PS
Wilber PS
Nebraska City PS
Omaha Public Schools – 11 schools CCAP master plan

23 PK-12 projects in the past 10 years


The Chicago Athenaeum Awards the American Prize of Architecture to Multistudio & BVH Architecture

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.”

As a catalyst for additional growth on the Beatrice campus, the project set a new standard for what learning, student life, and educational collaboration can be,” said BVH Architect and Associate Principal Bryan Solko, AIA, LEED AP. “Through design-focused charrettes with current students, educators, and administrators, a clear vision was established for what this project could be. BVH and Multistudio developed a strong partnership centered on implementing the vision, which resulted in a beautiful, functional, and performance-based building.”

This is BVH Architecture’s 3rd American Architecture Award. Previous American Architecture Awards include the Nebraska Center for Advanced Professional Studies (Sandy Creek) and The Nature Conservancy Niobrara River Valley Preserve.

Congratulations to Our New Associates!

Jen Davis

As one of the first members of the BVH Denver office, Jen is a natural leader. With her compassionate personality and dynamic skillset, she builds strong relationships and trust with everyone she works with. Jen is great with clients and continues to go the extra mile with her work—stepping in and stepping up to the plate to help the team. She is tenacious and driven and continues to be a huge asset to the firm.

Matt Fitzpatrick

A true team player, Matt has a go-getter attitude and no problem jumping in to help others. His great sense of detail enables him to strive for perfection in his work and design. Matt’s knowledge base in Multifamily has been pushing our Denver practice, and he has been a key asset in growing our Colorado business.

Andrew Meyer

Andrew has a disposition that draws people in. He looks at challenges as opportunities, taking on complex projects with a positive attitude. A huge asset to our team, Andrew has proven his knowledge and skill sets through his work while activating people in everything he does.

Kevin Meyer

Kevin has a special ability to lead his project team members positively and has become a mentor in their professional development, with staff often seeking him out for guidance. As an active community member, Kevin has an ability to grow and develop positive and long-lasting client relationships on every project he works on—a real ability to connect with others. He pushes design and thought leadership forward within the firm and our team.

Phuong Nguyen

Phuong is one of the young, talented architectural designers BVH needs to be a successful, purposeful, and design-focused firm. Her design skills are forward-thinking and she is respected by the firm for her ability to push the projects she works on. Phuong is making a change in the design profession with her work on J+EDI efforts within the firm but also in the community. This is evident within her work in AIA Next to Lead, the ACE Mentorship Program, and her recent article in B2B Magazine.

Kat Pickering

Kat has been with BVH for 5 years and has played a key role in building our Interiors practice. A sought after team member, her reliable and knowledgeable nature means staff often look to her for leadership. Kat’s passion for furniture and strong design has continued to grow throughout her professional career, and she strives to get work done with a high level of quality that produces an improved experience for the client and end user.

Case Study of Biophilia in Automotive Education Environments

Biophilia is humankind’s inherent connection with nature and explains why ocean views, mountain hikes, gardening, daylight, and parks restore our mind, body, and spirit. Building design inherently impacts human health and wellness and the inclusion of biophilic design concepts in our buildings supports positive health outcomes. Pulling aspects of the natural environment indoors and integrating biodiverse outdoor amenities (features) are ways to achieve a biophilic design.

Literature from many sources including the Living Futures Institute outline various approaches to biophilic design. Below are fifteen patterns outlined by Terrapin Bright Green in 2014 for biophilic design. 

Nature in the Space Patterns

  1. Visual Connection with Nature
  2. Non-Visual Connection with Nature
  3. Non-Rhythmic Sensory Stimuli
  4. Thermal & Airflow Variability
  5. Presence of Water
  6. Dynamic & Diffuse Light
  7. Connection with Natural Systems

Natural Analogues Patterns

  1. Biomorphic Forms & Patterns
  2. Material Connection with Nature
  3. Complexity & Order

Nature of the Space Patterns

  1. Prospect
  2. Refuge
  3. Mystery
  4. Risk/Peril
  5. Awe

Several projects at BVH incorporate these patterns. Specifically, one project that achieved success and earned a LEEDv4 Innovation and Design credit for biophilia, was the Metro Community College (MCC) Automotive Technology Facility. MCC Auto Tech’s use of biophilia incorporates eight patterns of the fifteen listed above, in the design of this cutting edge technology education facility. Images below were used to highlight the biophilic patterns for the LEED innovation credit.  

Exterior glazing provides a visual connection with nature through nooks projected into a native landscape. Nature in the space is further enhanced through the use of skylights and clerestories connecting humans to the dynamic patterns and diffusing daylight. Through the nooks and exterior glazing the surrounding landscape connects people to natural systems showcasing the seasonal variability of native plantings and weather patterns. 

Wood materials and wall coverings introduce biomorphic forms and patterns similar to what exists in nature. Acoustical ceiling elements are used throughout the building referencing natural organic arrangements. Glass bridges throughout the space are decorated with glass film patterned to mimic clouds. 

Natural analogues of complexity and order occur within the biomorphic forms and patterns across the ceilings, cloud patterns, and a nature inspired color palette. Additionally, the exposed structure and MEP systems showcase manmade layers of order and complexity within the spaces. 

Views across the space take in the entire building from one end to the other creating a feeling of prospect. Further facilitated through the transparency and openness in the space.

Refuge is provided in small seating areas and private conference rooms alongside the nooks providing a sense of protection for occupants.

The biophilic element of risk/peril is experienced through the protected walkways overlooking the education spaces below, glass railings overlooking two story spaces and cantilevered nooks at the exterior of the facility. Providing a sense of excitement while still maintaining the feeling of security. 

Biophilic design operates over scales from touchable close materials, to the whole building organization and layout. All occupants benefit from biophilic elements and experiences of nature throughout the building. Building on our experience, BVH will continue to prioritize health and wellness through design excellence.

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