Text description provided by the architects. Chadron, Nebraska, is situated at the intersection of the rolling sandhills and the jagged Black Hills, home to Mount Rushmore. Located at this unique place is Chadron State College, a four-year public college, with a growing student population.
To accommodate this growth the administration desired a new student housing option, the first since the 1960s. A parcel of grassland east of campus is master planned as a student housing neighborhood complete with outdoor amenities and a community building to support indoor activities.
In contrast to most residence halls that house hundreds of students, Eagle Ridge is home to only 23 students per building to support communal living and the development of social soft skills.
The constructed phase 1 consists of three houses integrated within the natural environment. Utilizing the landscape the buildings strategically negotiate the topography to provide ongrade entries at both levels while preferencing views and solar exposure. The housing units are set close together, creating common areas and walkways that help foster strong, lasting relationships between students and the community.
The interior of each building is arranged as a cluster of six, suite-style apartments that feature a common living room, kitchenette, and compartmentalized bathroom. Each bedroom is single bed occupancy, and the upper level features a student lounge. A covered porch adjacent to the student lounge and a deck covering the lower level entry provides outdoor spaces for students. To maximize the 9,000 square foot buildings meant the stairways had to be captured to double as a place to congregate or overlook the surrounding rolling prairie.
Eagle Ridge utilizes forms reminiscent of local homes and typical agrarian architecture, with the small-scale units drawing heavily on the established visual language of the region. The form is reduced to a plinth, which engages the topography, and a shroud which encloses the upper level program including the porch. The exposed concrete finish of the plinth is an authentic material of the region used to express the it’s connection with the earth. The shroud is formed of bonderized standing seam roofing with batten covers articulated to elevate a rather conventional roof system. To maintain the purity of the shroud no roof penetrations were considered. Cleverly the vent stacks are hidden beneath perforated sections of the standing seam roof in the middle, lower portion of the roof. Essentially the roof in this area acts as a large vent cap with the waterproof enclosure hidden from site.
The gable ends of each house are illuminated with backlit polycarbonate panels to provide site security lighting while also creating a visual beacon from campus proper. A ventilated attic space called for gable vents which, again, are cleverly hidden behind the polycarbonate panels using open cell vents typically used in masonry cavity construction allowing the free movement of air where the polycarbonate panels and lap siding touch.