AIA Central States Region Design Excellence Awards

Posted: August 16, 2022

The Student Living Center & Wylie Dining Hall consists of a four-level 87,000 square foot – 231 bed student residence hall with a two-level connected mixed-use dining center.  This will be the first of several projects on campus that are centered around a major initiative focused on the Freshman Experience, intended to attract and retain top level freshman art students.  Architecturally, the student housing and dining project represents a transformational, iconic new building that compliments the history and traditions of KCAI, while expressing its forward-thinking evolution.

The site for the building is located at the southern edge of the campus, prominently located along a major city boulevard and recently completed campus entry.  The new building is intended to establish and to reinforce a celebratory gateway to the campus.

The project will comprise of a vibrant new destination with the prominently located Nerman Café, offering retail dining and the east facing student entry providing an all-you-care-to-eat multi venue food hall.  Building upon the notion of an integrated, immersive experience for freshman – the new building promotes personal connections for all students on campus, between buildings, and at a macro level connecting to the neighborhood and surrounding cultural assets.

Integrating the concept of the Art Ribbon into the building’s organizational structure and interior environment are a series of interconnected “pod neighborhoods” arranged in a sinuous, yet orthogonal configuration of connected micro-communities.  These micro communities are comprised of the individual semi-suite loft units, a variety of common areas, and the communal dining experience.  In addition, the Art Ribbon pathway creates a physical east-west artery through campus – connecting students with the Kemper and Nelson Atkin’s Museums which will expose students to this world class art district.

The new two-level Wylie Dining Center is a 15,000 square foot pavilion interconnected to the new living center (residence hall).  It is a modern 200 seat food service facility that will offer freshly prepared daily meals via a variety of open (multi-platform) cooking venues.  This pavilion will houses the Nerman Café supported by “The Grille” – a late night retail venue.

The design – a collaboration between Helix + Carvell Architects will respect what is held precious by campus stakeholders, while pushing the traditional boundaries of traditional student housing.  There are numerous buildings adjacent to this site that contribute to the fabric of campus, and the overall context.  Their massing, form, and materiality influenced how we designed this building to complement the neighborhood.  This building will create a distinctive architectural identity articulating  both physically and metaphorically “a gateway” – for students who are beginning their campus journey.

“The contemporary student coming to KCAI to study deserves the best possible living space and the residence hall will be exactly what the students and their parents want – a home that is comfortable, relaxing and safe, with high connectivity.”
Tony Jones, The Nerman Family President, KCAI