Students at the South Dakota State University School in of Architecture recently moved into a new school of Architecture Brookings, SD, constructed using precast concrete fabricated by Gage Brothers in Sioux Falls, SD. Many of the students at the school took part in a precast studio that allowed them to see first-hand what the work that went into the precast concrete used on the building. One unique feature of the building is a work yard that will allow the students to fabricate small precast pieces themselves.
"For the first time in our program’s history, work this summer has started to become manageable and much easier to learn in because we now have the great work yard that Gage Brothers helped fund and build for us," says Brian Rex, Associate Professor & Department Head. "This is a game changer. Things that we used to have to complete across three shops on various corners of the campus are now done in one awesome space. This year’s project, even with the very late start, has been much more efficient and has engaged exponentially more students in the process. We literally can sit at our desks now and look down from above on the things we are fabricating. This is greatly because of Gage Brothers’ foresight and shared vision that what will make a good architecture school in this place in this time is a hands on “learning by doing” study environment."
One of the first projects the students will work on is the completion of the Wrigley Square project in Mobridge, SD. Students Justin Davis and Emily Heezen have been working on drawings for the project. More students will get involved as the project culminates in construction this summer.
Plans are for the studioi work to continue on a project in Webster, SD, and the project will start to move in a slightly different direction. Assistant Professor Federico Lammers will take the lead on the program which has already been put into place and gain community input and approval. Once students arrive on campus in the fall, their work will begin. "The students will be charged not with finding a form but they’ll be charged with who to move material across the state, how to schedule and manage labor, and how Precast Concrete shapes a project, of course."
The new building and project should also help foster some interdepartmental work on the project, bringing students in from the school of construction management as well as the school of architecture.
All in all, it has been an exciting few years for the precast studio and for the school of architecture at SDSU. "Gage Brothers has helped give us an amazing wall that defines a place in the middle of our campus where we can do hands-on work. This is unique—especially when we look at the collaborative potential of who they’ve put behind the wall and who else in this campus gets to see our explorations in construction and fabrication. No industry is supporting and fostering our program like the Precast industry, especially Gage Brothers and Tom Kelley," says Brian Rex.