EAPC Receives the AIA SD Merit Award for Outstanding Design

By Shawn Crowley

As the Director of Higher Education at EAPC Architects Engineers (EAPC), I am proud to share that our firm has been recognized with a Merit Award from the South Dakota chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) for our innovative design of the Raven Precision Agriculture Center at South Dakota State University (SDSU). This accolade, announced at AIA South Dakota’s annual conference, is a significant mark of our architectural expertise and commitment to excellence.

The Raven Precision Agriculture Center, a groundbreaking, state-of-the-art facility on the SDSU campus, stands as a symbol of innovative collaboration in educational and research spaces. It serves as a central collaboration hub for SDSU’s agricultural sciences, seamlessly integrating the efforts of the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering and the Department of Agronomy, Horticulture, and Plant Science. Encompassing nearly 130,000 square feet, the center is equipped with advanced wet labs, industrial high bay spaces, and unique features like a dynamometer bay and a quarter-scale tractor lab. These facilities are complemented by extensive classrooms and office spaces.

The facility, which had a budget of $46.2 million, opened in fall 2021. This endeavor was made possible due to the united efforts of South Dakota’s community stakeholders, industry allies, and legislative bodies. Our journey, which started in 2015, is a testament to years of detailed planning and collaborative effort, underlining our commitment to creating a landmark facility.

Photo by Jordan Powers (www.jordanpowers.com)

SDSU President Barry Dunn praised the building’s design, “We put an awful lot of work into the design phase, and EAPC listened and worked with students, faculty and department heads. Clearly EAPC created a facility that exceeded our dreams,” Dunn stated. He particularly highlighted the strategic use of natural light, vital for well-being and productivity, especially during South Dakota’s harsh winter months.

Our team, including EAPC Partner, Leap Chear, is honored to receive this recognition. The AIA jury commended the building for its sustainable design, effective utilization of natural light, and dynamic spaces that encourage collaborative learning. The design’s ability to reflect the natural beauty of sunrises and sunsets was also acknowledged.

The Raven Precision Agriculture Center has achieved LEED Silver certification, underscoring its sustainable features. The building’s design strategically incorporates natural light, a key feature acutely evident on the first level. Its transparent structure invites passersby to view the scientific activities occurring in the labs. This architectural choice, while appearing simple, is consistently applied throughout the structure, with extensive glass areas symbolizing the advanced technology that drives precision agriculture.

“As a department, we are incredibly proud of the Raven Precision Agriculture Center,” said Barry Mielke, associate vice president for Facilities and Services at SDSU. “In addition to the usability and aesthetics of the building, our service teams ensure the building systems, or the behind-the-scenes type services like heating, cooling, electrical, plumbing and landscaping, are highly functional and durable. Designing, operating and maintaining those systems is critical for the building to win awards on day one, but more importantly for it to be functional and impressive 20-plus years from now, too. We are confident it will be.”

From left are South Dakota State University President Barry Dunn, Leap Chear, EAPC Principal Architect and Partner; Barry Mielke, Associate Vice President for Facilities and Services at SDSU; Shawn Crowley, EAPC Architect and Director of Higher Education; and Colin Gaalswyk, Senior Mechanical Engineer for Facilities and Services. (Photo Courtesy of EAPC)
Photo by Jordan Powers (www.jordanpowers.com)
Photo by Jordan Powers (www.jordanpowers.com)

EAPC extends our gratitude to SDSU officials and celebrates our longstanding partnership with the university. This collaboration has resulted in several significant projects, including the Wellness Center addition, First Bank & Trust Arena, Berg Agricultural Hall renovations, the Frank J. Kurtenbach Family Wrestling Center, and the upcoming renovation of Larson Commons. This award is not just a recognition of the Raven Precision Agriculture Center but a testament to EAPC’s enduring dedication to architectural excellence in educational environments. Check out the article on the University’s website: “Raven Precision Agriculture Center design claims award.”

Photo courtesy of SDSU