Yellowstone Hall – SMA Architects
- Written by: Tom Faunce
- Produced by: Cara Sullivan
- Estimated reading time: 3 mins
In 2016, Montana State University (MSU) added a 120,000-square-foot coed freshman residence hall to its Bozeman, Montana, campus. Yellowstone Hall is a 400-bed facility with a unique design that encompasses updated single, double and semi-suite style room layouts. The new building will also include amenities such as resident and staff meeting spaces, collaborative academic work areas, lounge space, a kitchen area, laundry facility, a private Resident Director apartment, ski/storage lockers, exterior barbeque grills, interior and exterior bike storage as well as a bike maintenance room.
Yellowstone Hall is comprised of 10 different communities, each made up of 40 students, including resident advisors. Each community contains its own active lounge and quiet lounge for socializing or studying. The design program for Yellowstone Hall was completed by SMA Architects, located in Helena and Bozeman, Montana, in collaboration with partner firm, NAC Architecture located in Spokane, Washington. From initial concept to final design, SMA Architects and NAC Architecture collaborated as one firm, delivering a final product indicative of their commitment to design and client fulfillment.
For more than three decades, SMA Architects has provided professional architectural services throughout the intermountain West. Lead by Jason M. Davis, AIA, NCARB and Tim Meldrum, AIA, LEED A.P., NCARB, who have carried on SMA’s commitment to providing the best possible building, all while ensuring the process is enjoyable.
Adapting to the client’s needs
Due to regulations, MSU chose not to build Yellowstone Hall more than four stories tall. At 120,000 square feet, this created a design program that generated a relatively long building. This was a unique opportunity for SMA and NAC to implement a pass-through design, generating a situation where one of the wings of the building is supported by columns rather than occupied space below. “This is nice because people don’t have to be impeded by the length of the building itself,” says Meldrum. “Students and staff can basically walk through the building across campus.”
SMA/NAC was also able to focus on incorporating an aspect of Roskie Beach, which is a popular area for MSU students. Due to the site location, SMA/NAC chose to place an emphasis on Roskie Beach being the “backyard” of Yellowstone Hall.
The process of incorporating the owner’s vision of the new building required enhanced creativity by the design team. SMA also worked towards meeting MSU’s cost/bed request. The frim worked in collaboration with general contractor Langlas & Associates to ensure the project stayed within budget. “The biggest focus of the initial design was creating a space to allow 400 beds while implementing energy-efficient systems and ensuring that we included as many amenities as possible,” recalls Meldrum. “I’m hesitant to even call it a challenge because it was such a great team that we had on this project. It was a real focused effort by many talented team members.”
A memorable milestone
Working on a tight schedule, SMA/NAC began programming Yellowstone Hall in January 2014 and Langlas began construction in June. “We had about 10 months to complete everything,” shares Meldrum. “It was a very tight schedule and it could not have been done without the team we had working on it.”
In order to remain within budget and meet the institutional quality and construction demands of MSU, SMA implemented a hybrid structural system for Yellowstone Hall. The lower two floor systems of the building are concrete and steel in order to provide solid flexibility and strength. “This type of construction provides flexibility for administrative space to be moved around and reconfigured in the future,” Meldrum explains. The upper floor and structural systems are wood with a lightweight concrete overlay for acoustic separation. This method saved a lot of money as opposed to using full-on concrete and steel construction,” adds Meldrum.
Yellowstone Hall has been a significant milestone for MSU. Meldrum recalls the groundbreaking of the project as the most memorable moment. “The university was in desperate need of freshman housing and it stood out as a milestone at the groundbreaking,” he says.
By continually staying abreast to the latest advances in design, engineering and technology, SMA understands what is possible and how to achieve it. With the addition of Yellowstone Hall to its portfolio, SMA Architects combines its knowledge of architectural traditions with an innate ability to accurately analyze each project to offer a unique and cost-effective product that meets its client’s vision and goals.
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