Muenster University Center

The University of South Dakota

Vermillion, SD  USA

Commissioned by: The University of South Dakota

Scope: Student center with ballroom, function rooms, food court, study areas, university bookstore, coffee kiosk; plus the “link lab”—a covered glassed-in walkway and computer lab that connects student center with adjacent library.

The Muenster University Center was our second commission at the University of South Dakota after winning a national competition to design a new 80,000 square foot business school. The center is sited on a new quadrangle we created by moving a parking lot and adding to the original site and volume of an existing student center. Because of its leading role in campus life, we extended the building towards the central mall collegiate landscape to the east, so that the campus center and its large ballroom mass serve a landmark at the north entry to the campus.

The mall, which we renovated, is a central axis of circulation and links the student center visually with “Old Main,” the historic heart of the campus. We also connected the student center with the library by constructing a covered glass struc­ture dubbed the “link lab.” This computer lab permits easy movement between buildings during frigid winters; from the outside, the lab’s glass walls create transparency between the quadrangle and pedestrian mall.

The student center’s exterior is quartzite, the same stone cladding for Old Main, a historic building on campus—and quarried from the same regional source. Notable features include the second-story ballroom that ges­tures boldly toward Old Main; beneath this prominent overhang is a terrace for outside dining. Inside, we created a wide central walkway on the balcony above in comfortable sitting areas.

Materials: Quartzite; zinc; concrete; steel; terrazzo; acoustical plaster; perforated steel ceiling panels.

Collaborators:
General Contractor:  Kraus-Anderson Construction Company, Inc.
Landscape Architect:  The Big Muddy Workshop
Civil Engineer:  Sayre Associates, Inc.
MEP Engineer:  Associated Consulting Engineering, Inc.
Acoustical Consultant:  Acentech Inc.
Food Services:  Aramark Corp.

Photographer: John Edward Linden Photography