WSC Frontier Hall

25. August 2014

WSC Frontier Hall
Williston, North Dakota

Client
Williston State College

Architect
JLG Architects
Minneapolis, MN

Design Principals
Lonnie J. Laffen, James A. Galloway

Project Architect/Manager
Jeff Steiner

Project Team
Tom Behm, Jeff Hysjulien, Nick Jensen, Rebecca Molldrem, Adam Barnett

Structural Engineer
Heyer Engineering

MEP Engineer
Obermiller Nelson Engineering

Civil Engineer
Kadrmas, Lee and Jackson

Landscape Architect
JLG Architects

Interior Designer
JLG Architects

Contractor
Comstock Construction

Construction Manager
Ross Wilmes

Storefront/Curtain Wall
Fargo Glass

Weathered Steel Panels
Progress Building Systems

Building Area
58,000 sf

The impact of architecture is often felt beyond the walls of a particular building. In the case of this residence hall serving the students of Williston State College in North Dakota, the building frees up much needed space in the community to alleviate a housing shortage. The weathered steel exterior also gives the College a unique expression and precedent for future growth. JLG Architects answered a few questions about the project.

Front view

Please provide an overview of the project.

The new Frontier Residence Hall is the primary on-campus housing offered for students by the College. It provides many modern amenities and acts as a central gathering space for students and faculty. Its common spaces act as a place to build community and provide an attractive incentive for prospective students to consider the school.

What are the main ideas and inspirations influencing the design of the building?

Williston is a rapidly growing hub in the development of the Bakken oil field, where the high number of workers has created a severe housing shortage. Williston State College decided to build the residence hall to move students on campus in order to free up community housing and to provide an attractive and dynamic campus life.

During the planning of the residence hall, the College became determined to address the overall lack of a “campus feel” by working with JLG to develop a new campus master plan that used the residence hall as the first step in elevating the College as a whole.  The entrance of the residence hall is located opposite the entry to the main classroom building, defining the campus entrance and setting up the development of a main campus quadrangle. The hall’s siting, plan layout, and expanses of glass are organized in a way to maximize wonderful views of the Missouri river valley and to provide an inviting introduction to the campus.

Front view - detail

Weathered steel was selected as the feature material responding to the industrial character of the town. Sunshade devices and reveals in the steel panels add shadows and pattern. Clean detailing throughout lets the materials – glass contrasting with the weathered steel – create a strong impact.

To fill the dramatic need for student study areas, the central core of the Residence Hall contains three levels of open study spaces. It also acts as the building’s main vertical circulation, centralizing the building’s activity and providing connection to the two housing wings. An atrium within this core opens the first and second floors up to the large exterior glass walls which frame views of the river valley. The fourth floor is dedicated to a large conference room. This conference room is available for campus-wide use, and has expansive, breathtaking views of the landscape in all directions.

Lobby view

To what extent did the clients and/or future users of the building influence the design and the outcome of the building?

The initial schematic effort was produced in a design charrette in collaboration with the owners design committee. Over a two-day brainstorming session various building site orientations and plan layouts were explored and evaluated. At the end of the charrette a preferred option was selected. This option was developed over the next few months with the design committee which had representation from all the user groups, including newly enrolled students.

Exterior rendering

How does the building relate to contemporary architectural trends, be it sustainability, technology, etc.?

The project incorporated aspects of the LEED rating system, including use of Low-VOC materials, recycled content and regional materials, and a recycling area. A geothermal system heats and cools the building. The anticipated payback is only seven years, making it a very economical and sustainable choice. The resident rooms and common spaces are all serviced with high speed internet. Also, recognizing the use of cell phones the owner made the decision to forgo the cost of installing land lines. Extensive use of large areas of energy efficient glass brings in plenty of natural light and views to the Missouri river valley, providing inviting study and lounge spaces.

Email interview conducted by John Hill.

WSC Frontier Hall
Williston, North Dakota

Client
Williston State College

Architect
JLG Architects
Minneapolis, MN

Design Principals
Lonnie J. Laffen, James A. Galloway

Project Architect/Manager
Jeff Steiner

Project Team
Tom Behm, Jeff Hysjulien, Nick Jensen, Rebecca Molldrem, Adam Barnett

Structural Engineer
Heyer Engineering

MEP Engineer
Obermiller Nelson Engineering

Civil Engineer
Kadrmas, Lee and Jackson

Landscape Architect
JLG Architects

Interior Designer
JLG Architects

Contractor
Comstock Construction

Construction Manager
Ross Wilmes

Storefront/Curtain Wall
Fargo Glass

Weathered Steel Panels
Progress Building Systems

Building Area
58,000 sf

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