Facility Focus (Campus Welcome Centers)

Missouri State University: Davis-Harrington Welcome Center

Missouri State University: Davis-Harrington Welcome Center


In the highly competitive world of higher education, first impressions are critical. Missouri State University (MSU), in Springfield, challenged the design team of Dake Wells Architecture to develop a signature work of architecture at the university’s primary entrance along its eastern edge as a way to greet visitors to the campus, while providing a point of origin for campus tours to prospective students and parents.

Quickly recognized as an opportunity to reinforce the institutions brand image, the 13,196-gross-square-foot Davis-Harrington Welcome Center takes full advantage of its prominent site condition to tell the story of the university through subtle references embedded in the design. The university’s origin as Southwest Missouri State Teachers College, an institution for educating teachers, provides numerous references in the architecture.

From floor to ceiling, the university’s logos and school colors make it clear that visitors are in MSU bear country. The north elevation angles toward a main entry to the campus, displaying a 24-foot-tall steel bear logo that emphasizes the university’s identity.

On the exterior, limestone provides a durable and contextual surface at the ground, increasing in transparency to the north toward the entrance. Two white planes are elevated above the base defining the east and west façades, almost paper thin. A two-story curtain wall angled toward the campus entrance serves as a gesture to welcome visitors and increase the building’s transparency.

The building program is arranged in a two-story scheme, placing administrative functions on an upper level in order to increase the building’s visual presence as it reinforces the campus edge. The scheme considers a future expansion that will relocate existing admissions and registration services to this location, providing a one-stop shop for new applicants.

The program includes a large lobby, 100-seat presentation room, gallery, catering kitchen, admissions offices and support spaces.

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2016 issue of College Planning & Management.

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