DC25: A Snapshot of People-First Higher Education Spaces

We've served many higher education clients over the last 25 years.

We love what we do—designing people-first places for our clients that bring their dreams to life. We've served many higher education clients over the last 25 years. We’d like to share some highlights from the many projects we’ve been a part of since 1992.



Indiana Wesleyan University Phillippe Performing Arts Center

The Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU) Phillippe Performing Arts Center houses the School of Music and Performing Arts. The building includes office and practice spaces, as well as three performance venues – a 200-seat recital hall, a black box theater, and a 1200-seat concert hall.
This was the first project that we designed in the Higher Education (HE) market, so it was very significant for DC. HE was our first target market, and has historically been the largest of our three target markets. Not only was this our first HE project in 1994, IWU became our first HE client, hiring us to do at least one major project a year for the next decade. This opportunity allowed us to quickly build an extensive portfolio of diverse project types on a college campus. Since 1994, we have guided IWU through nearly 40 major projects.



University of Saint Francis Art and Visual Communications Building

The School of Creative Arts (SOCA) at the Rolland Arts Center houses the main visual arts curriculum for the University. This was one of DC’s first significant projects on USF’s campus, and established our long term relationship with SOCA. It was also one of the first cool adaptive reuse projects that we designed. It includes the initial building project, two additions to the Rolland Arts Center on the main campus, and the eventual SOCA Performing Arts Center at the downtown campus.
The Rolland Arts Center is an extremely successful adaptive reuse of a decades-old Standard Oil depot structure. The building includes gallery spaces, drawing, painting, sculpture, and photography studios, as well as an animation lab and a variety of other program spaces.



Indiana Wesleyan University Student Center Addition II

This was the first of two significant additions that we designed for the IWU Student Center. The first took the prior concept of a literal “campus crossroads” for all student services and successfully transformed it into an active and vibrant center of engagement. While this first addition successfully drove enrollment, the board soon challenged us to design a second addition that was even more successful than the first. The second addition became a model of student centers for the small private school. Once again, it helped to drive enrollment as a hub of engagement and entrepreneurship for the students.
This was an important project not only because of its impact on the campus of IWU, but because it has served as a model of a successful campus student center to other private colleges. This project not only helped to reinforce our ability to design various projects on a college campus, but it demonstrated our understanding of the campus environment, what it takes to design for student engagement, and how to use spaces within a building to bolster community.


Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne Student Services

The Student Services project played a significant role in transforming IPFW from a commuter campus to a vibrant, 24/7 accessible living/learning environment. The project connected students and staff to an iconic destination and hub of activity by housing a wide variety of spaces to study, socialize, exercise, participate in intramurals, address administrative needs, meet with friends and instructors, or watch ballgames.
This complex project integrated three existing facilities, creating its own 176,000 sf footprint, as well as fundamentally changing the circulation patterns of campus. With a number of design team partners attempting to integrate the needs of dozens of campus departments, it truly highlights DC’s ability to create a collaborative solution that meets the needs of a wide range of users.



LeTourneau University Student Center

This 200-bed residence hall at LeTourneau University in Longview, Texas, was designed with a significant focus on community or, as the University refers to it, “floor unity.” The focus on community is a significant factor in creating overall student engagement and a memorable college experience.
This was our first long distance project, so it required us to be very efficient with our time. New processes and tools were designed and created to help us in our efficiency. Two of the primary tools that were developed as a result of this project were our UDesign and WeDesign processes. The UDesign process allows us to immerse ourselves in our client’s culture and work closely with them to develop design concepts that are developed through collaboration and consensus. The WeDesign process pulls everyone on the design team together for an extended work session. First, the goals of the design are discussed and developed in the UDesign process. This allows the team to work through the design, coordinating all aspects to ensure the design’s intent is clearly communicated.
Today, we regularly use the UDesign and WeDesign processes with our clients. The impact that one project’s tools have had on numerous projects since is invaluable.