SDSU Architecture Selected for PCI Studio

South Dakota State University, in partnership with the SDSU Foundation, was recently awarded a competitive grant from the Precast Concrete Industry (PCI) Foundation to create a new precast/prestressed concrete studio for the university’s Departments of Architecture and Construction Management.

The grant will enable the shared study of precast building technologies in both departments. The Architecture, Math and Engineering building now under construction on the SDSU campus will connect students in these programs with a shared workshop. Central to the new studio is the active engagement with regional PCI industry partners, specifically Gage Brothers in Sioux Falls. From plant tours to guest lectures, the grant will deepen the relationship between Gage Brothers and SDSU.

“The PCI Trustees were impressed with a number of things about the SDSU proposal. The first was that it was a partnership between a school of architecture and a school of construction management,” said Thomas J. D’Arcy, the Chairman of the PCI Foundation. “We have been working to develop programs on the construction management side and were pleased to see it come about here. The second part of the proposal that we liked was the ‘hands on’ approach to learning that SDSU takes. The trustees applauded the effort that the school takes to provide students with a unique learning experience that may include getting their hands dirty.”

SDSU’s precast concrete studio’s proposed concept is titled “Building Concrete Community.” Beginning in the fall of 2013, each new incoming class of students will partner with a town in South Dakota to study during their years at SDSU. Over the course of their time in college, students will interact with rural communities, and ultimately design and construct a small civic project such as a park structure, band shell, or other community-identified need.

“We also liked the thoughtfulness and care that Professor Brian Rex took in creating the program. It is important for us that the faculty embraces an integrated approach to the study of design and construction. That will mean including the local industry will be on hand to provide insight and guidance, but also that the industry as a whole will learn from the work at SDSU as it is shared at industry meetings,” said D’Arcy.

In support of the new PCI Studio and the growing SDSU programs, Gage Brothers also pledged $200,000 of gift-in-kind support over the next four years, ranging from tours, plant visits, teaching and scholarship support. “Our support made perfect sense to us as a company,” said Tom Kelley, President of Gage Brothers. “We are proud to have been involved in numerous building projects at SDSU. This studio will allow additional interaction with our team and the students on an ongoing basis, as well as help educate the future architects and construction managers on the benefits of utilizing precast concrete.”

The PCI Foundation provides grants for educational and research initiatives focused on state-of-the-art innovative approaches to the integrated use of precast concrete design, fabrication, and construction. It is an independent 501(c) 3 and has provided support for programs at accredited schools of architecture, engineering and construction management in the US. The PCI Foundation began sponsoring learning studios at schools of engineering and architecture in 2007.

PHOTO - Brian Rex