The Economic Development/Cultural Center for Somerset Community College represents a partnership between the University of Kentucky and non-profit organizations, and has become a national model for rural development initiatives. The Center combines social, economic and educational development under one roof with the technology to reach out easily to a 40-county area and COST PER SQ FT$117.24FEATURED IN1998 Architectural Portfolio world beyond.
Intrinsic to the design was the creation of a building that would provide a bold new image for the development of eastern Kentucky. The sweeping exterior faces Highway 27, and provides an architectural statement of the commitment to the area’s growth. Through its placement, the facility becomes a beacon for this region of Kentucky. The imposing curved glass curtainwall system and window design were such a success that the center’s administration adopted the theme, making the window elevation central to their logo, and adding the motto "A window to the future" to their promotional literature.
The 100,426-square-foot facility has banquet and conference facilities, teleconferencing capabilities, a 760-seat theater complete with full stage and fly loft, orchestra pit, sound system, lighting system, dressing rooms and an exhibition hall with 28,000 square feet for training, trade shows, exhibitions and concerts. A television studio will be linked to Kentucky Educational Television and its 1,700-downlink locations statewide.
Intensive programming of the facility led to a floor plan that blends its many uses into an attractive, cohesive design. The flexibility to allow a variety of functions to occur was paramount to the building scheme. By separating the spaces used for exhibits, performing arts, conferences, conventions and education, the layout also takes into consideration the potential for simultaneous events, while allowing common use of many support spaces.
Choices for building systems and materials were dictated by the facility’s multiple uses and a need for flexibility. The design for the Center for Rural Development is a synthesis of many challenging program elements. The architecture of this "public" facility presents a new facade, which uplifts the public and places the region at the forefront of the state in development initiatives.
Photographer: ©M.S. Rezny Photography