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

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.”

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.

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