Northwestern selects architect for learning commons project

Northwestern College has selected Cannon Moss Brygger and Associates (CMBA) of Sioux City, Iowa, and Grand Island, Neb., to provide architectural services for the new learning commons project. CMBA will work with The Durrant Group, an international architectural and engineering firm based in Dubuque, Iowa, which has significant library experience.

“This was a difficult decision,” says Dr. Bruce Murphy, Northwestern’s president. “We interviewed six firms with a regional or even national reputation. All of them have higher education library experience and a talented team capable of completing this project. Several have Northwestern connections, which made the decision even more difficult.

“Our selection process came down to two key questions: Which firm can pull off the integration of all the components we’re planning to include in this facility, and which firm can do it best on our campus—reflecting our mission and purpose,” says Murphy. “The Durrant Group has excellent experience with similar integrated projects, such as St. Cloud State University’s learning resource center and Wartburg College’s library. Todd Moss, CEO of Cannon Moss Brygger and Associates, has designed many of our facilities. He has a very good understanding of what Northwestern College is about, and we’re confident he will do an excellent job of using that knowledge to design a learning commons that will be an outstanding fit for our campus.”

Northwestern is in the process of negotiating a contract with CMBA/Durrant. The architects will begin the schematic design phase in January and give a presentation at the Board of Trustees meeting in April. The design development phase from April to October will culminate in another presentation at the fall board meeting.

Cannon Moss Brygger and Associates is a 40-year-old architectural and engineering firm with 30 employees. The firm has worked on many Northwestern projects in the last dozen years, including the restoration of Zwemer Hall and the construction of the DeWitt Theatre Arts Center, Korver Visual Arts Center and Stegenga Hall.

The Durrant Group, with 11 offices around the country, employs more than 275 professionals. Ranked number 212 in Engineering News Record’s list of top 500 design firms, Durrant was placed on Zweig White’s Hot Firms List in 2003 as one of the 100 fastest-growing architecture and engineering firms. Durrant received an award for design excellence from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for its work on the National Defense University Headquarters and Library Building in Washington, D.C. The company also designed the U.S. Embassy in Santiago, Chile; Opperman Hall and Law Library at Drake University; and the University of Minnesota Law School. A member of the Green Building Council, Durrant is a leader in energy-efficient and environmentally conscious design.

The learning commons—recommended by the Library Program Task Force, which met throughout the 2003-04 school year—will house a new library and archives, computing services center, writing center, classrooms, auditorium and coffee shop. Envisioned as one facility with distinct components working together to nurture learning and Northwestern’s commitment to community, the facility will feature a library with state-of-the-art technology, but reflecting tradition in its aesthetic character and form.