2023 Design Awards: NSU Jewett Regional Science Education Center

Awarded 2023 AIASD Merit Award
Content and photos provided by TSP Inc.

Northern State University is recognized for its teacher-education degree programs, so it was natural for NSU leaders to envision their new science building as a resource not only for college students but also for the larger area’s K-12 school districts and other organizations.

The design for the Regional Science Education Center considers needs for faculty and students of all ages. Our architects, engineers, planners, and interior specialists provided specialty lab programming and design to provide NSU, the Aberdeen community, and the state’s northeast region with a cutting-edge facility that offers room to grow.

Located along Northern State University’s primary entry, the new facility has transformed how Northern State University introduces itself to prospective students, potential faculty, and the Aberdeen community.

The building’s large canopy serves as a porch for this new front door to campus. Activity in the lobby and science laboratories is visible through the ultra-clear glass of the curtainwall.

North poral. Photographed by Matt Winquist.
North “porch.” Photographed by Matt Winquist.

The front porch spills inside to a vibrant, NSU-branded, two-story student hub. A landscape-based detail along the perimeter helps connect the indoors to the outdoors.

The student hub puts education on display, immersing users in science. Founded to train teachers, NSU now has a building that makes education as visible and transparent as possible – its mission made public.

Student hub from second level. Photographed by Matt Winquist.
Student hub from main level, looking south toward laboratories. Photographed by Matt Winquist.

The exterior also features the science programs offered within the building, using the landscape as an educational and teaching tool on South Dakota ecosystems. A greenhouse, outdoor classroom, and educational arboretum punctuate the “backyard.”

Site landscape diagram. Public building amenities/circulation in purple.
“Backyard” viewed from second level. Photographed by Matt Winquist.
South courtyard with jewel-box greenhouse. Photographed by Matt Winquist.

The backyard also incorporates a contemporary colonnade aligned with existing campus pathways, promoting walkability across the University. The building’s eastern edge actively engages the street – three student collaboration spaces project over the sidewalk, framing a new urban edge for the campus. A custom mesh scrim reinforces this edge further, diffusing light and complementing the building’s brick tones.

Colonnade and pathway aligned with adjacent Johnson Fine Arts Center. Photographed by Matt Winquist.
East facade, featuring collaboration pods with custom spandrel glass. Photographed by Matt Winquist.

The walkability of the streetscape below the pods is enhanced by visually connecting it to the corridors inside, making for an engaging pedestrian experience both outside and within the building. Colors between the interior and exterior coordinate to promote campus brand.

East facade, looking north. Photographed by Matt Winquist.
Interior hallway along student collaboration pods. Photographed by Matt Winquist.
View through mesh scrim to hallway beyond. Photographed by Matt Winquist.

With all the branding and color provided at key nodes of the building, part of its design success stems from intentional nods to the existing campus architecture. One particular detail is the vertical brick coursings that protrude from the facade along various elevations. This creates a unique texture and shadow that accents the verticality of the building, taking its inspiration from (while simultaneously contrasting with) the horizontality of brick ribbing present on other collegiate-gothic buildings on campus.

The AIA SD Merit Award winner was a joint venture between TSP and SmithGroup. TSP is a multidisciplinary firm established in 1930 that specializes in education, community, and healthcare architecture and engineering. It has five offices in three states (three offices in South Dakota). Other partners included Kyburz-Carlson/Henry Carlson (CMAR) and the Office of the State Engineer. The project also achieved LEED Silver for its low energy use, exceptional thermal envelope, and use of environmentally sustainable materials and products throughout.

Closeup of east facade. Photographed by Matt Winquist.

Featured Image: Northeast facade. Photographed by Matt Winquist.

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