Benedicta Arts Center of the College of Saint Benedict wins two additional awards for architectural

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July 10, 2007

Photo Credit: ©Albert Vecerka/Esto

The reviews keep coming in, and critics continue to rave about the Benedicta Arts Center of the College of Saint Benedict.

The BAC has received two additional architectural and interior design awards for its upgraded visual and performing arts facility affirming CSB’s leadership in the fine arts. That brings to three the number of awards the project has earned since its opening in September 2006.

  • The Society for College and University Planners (SCUP), in partnership with the American Institute of Architects-Committee on Architecture for Education, has given the project an “Honor Award for Excellence in Architecture for a Building Addition.”
  • The International Interior Design Association (IIDA) Northland Chapter has given the project a FAB (Fresh, Artistic and Brilliant) Award for 2007 for brilliant interior design created by a local design community.

Those two awards go along with the Honor Award presented by the American Institute of Architects Minnesota in December 2006.

The 2007 SCUP/AIA-CAE Award was presented at a ceremony July 9 at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Chicago, during SCUP’s annual conference.

“This project has phenomenal vigor and is restrained yet powerful,” the awards jury reported. “There is a wonderful relationship to the exterior and it is playful with the interior vertical space. In the absence of external references, it engages the visitor more directly with the forms and the materials of composition.”

Over 100 projects were submitted for evaluation in 14 different categories. The awards are open to all professional service providers and institutions who have prepared designs or plans for two-year and four-year colleges, universities, academic medical and research centers, public or private institutions of any size in any country. Submissions must be made by a team including the institution and planning/design professionals.   

The expansion was designed by Hammel, Green and Abrahamson – the same firm that designed the original BAC (the firm was then known as Hammel and Green).

The BAC project was named the “Government/Institutional Award Winner” over nine other projects by the IIDA’s Northland Chapter at its fourth annual awards ceremony April 19 in St. Paul, Minn.

“What a nice piece of architecture,” said contest juror Bob Blaha, interior design director of HOK’s St. Louis and Chicago offices. “There is nothing in the interior design that does not have purpose, program or architecture – a wonderful project.”

“(It is) a beautifully restrained yet rich project,” added Shashi Caan, chair of the Interior Design Program at Parsons School of Design  and founder of her own interdisciplinary design collective, the Shashi Caan Collective. The project has a “wonderful use of special volumetrics. Very clear architectural moves with excellent choice of color and texture, which reinforce the deliberate and intelligent decisions. A superb project.”

The International Interior Design Association (IIDA) is a professional networking and educational association of more than 10,000 members in eight specialty forums, nine regions and more than 30 chapters around the world committed to enhancing the quality of life through excellence in interior design and advancing interior design through knowledge.

The BAC’s $8.9 million expansion and renovation was a component of the CSB Capital Campaign, “Our Place in the World, a Campaign to Inspire and Transform.” The BAC is now comprised of 173,000 square feet of creative space including:

  • The Darnall Amphitheater, a new outdoor amphitheater with lawn seating for 200 which allows students to put on more casual performances;
  • The Helgeson Dance Studio, a new dance studio which features a sprung floor and state of the art acoustical treatments;
  • An instrumental music rehearsal hall;
  • A chamber ensemble room;
  • New box office and administrative offices for fine arts programming;
  • Renovations to the building's 1,078-seat  auditorium, including new sound and light systems and new seating;
  • Renovations to the 300-seat Gorecki Family Theater, including new seating;
  • Updates to the air conditioning system and accessibility improvements throughout the building.

The addition of these performance and rehearsal spaces allows for expansion in the academic and public programming for CSB. Longer extended residences with visiting artists in dance and theater will be possible as well as year-round programming in multiple theater spaces. In addition to classes, lessons and student performances, the BAC hosts 200 public events each year, including being the only venue outside of the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area offering an annual Minnesota Orchestra series.

You can learn more about the expansion and renovation of the BAC on the BAC Web site.