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Metropolitan Community College Blue River East Building, Independence, Missouri (USA) by BNIM

Project name:
Metropolitan Community College Blue River East Building
Architecture firm:
Independence, Missouri, USA
Kelly Callewaert
Principal architect:
Design team:
James Pfeiffer, Principal-in-Charge. Jeremy Kahm, Project Manager. Dan Johnson, Project Architect. Janell Rock, Interior Design. Beena Ramaswami, Graphic Design / Signage. Adam Wiechman, Landscape Architecture. Sarah Murphy, Design Team. Sarah Johnson, Design Team. Brian McKinney, Design Team. Barb Cugno, Design Team. Fiona Bhuyan, Design Team. April Trotter, Design Team. Alyssa Parsons, Design Team
McCown Gordon
Interior design:
Built area:
2370 m²
Site area:
235,285 m²
Design year:
Completion year:
Civil engineer:
Taliaferro and Browne, Inc
Structural engineer:
KH Engineering Group
Environmental & MEP:
Henderson Engineers
Tools used:
Revit, Enscape
Pre-engineered steel structure
Concrete, Steel, Wood, Drywall, Glass
Metropolitan Community College
Educational Architecture

BNIM: Metropolitan Community College (MCC) Blue River East Building in Independence, Missouri, establishes a new campus which is home to the Great Plains OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) Education Center and MCC’s CDL (Commercial Driver’s License), Forklift, Linework, and Logistics programs. The Blue River East Campus serves 800+ students enrolled in these specialized programs which aim to strengthen Kansas City’s future workforce, help fulfill the high demand for technical skills, and create a positive impact within the local economy. 

As part of an initiative to consolidate programs from MCC’s former Business Technology campus to better suit program needs, transitioning to the Blue River East site was a transformative move for the College. In a former facility, programs were housed within deep floorplates that caused a lack of natural daylight and misleading wayfinding. With the design of the new campus, MCC recognized the design of the new Blue River East Building and Campus to be an important opportunity to showcase its programs in a renewed way through transparent, modern, and human-purposed design that supports student well-being and intuitive wayfinding. 

As the first project on MCC Blue River East Campus, the new building features prominent street-facing signage and views of the linework program poles visible from entrance of the campus. This was a key goal of MCC to clearly establish campus identity and a sense of transparency in the programs offered on campus. Entering the building, students and visitors experience generous natural daylight and views out to the surrounding site that create visual connections between various programs. Divided into fully conditioned space, heat-only high bay space, and exterior training areas, Blue River East emphasizes the interface and transparency between interior and exterior spaces while each area supports specific program needs. Three spaces around the envelope of the building serve as inviting “porches,” offering a spectrum of areas to rest or socialize that provide either a naturally ventilated outdoor space; a heat-only indoor environment; or a fully conditioned indoor environment. 

The new building is focused on maximizing MCC resources, providing a hands-on learning and training environment, and creating useful and engaging spaces for the College’s community of students and faculty. Classrooms and offices are located the fully conditioned portion of the campus. For students and faculty managing class schedules with other commitments around mealtimes, a community kitchenette is also available. The high-bay, heat-only portion of the Blue River East building accommodates vehicle storage and forklift and linework training programs’ interior linework poles. 

The design team worked within the parameters a pre-engineered metal building system which served as the primary structure of the Blue River East building. Maximizing these materials and focusing on financial and sustainable stewardship within a modest budget, the MCC Blue River East building and campus reimagine the limitations of a pre-engineered metal building. 

Located on a 100-year flood plan, the design team worked with MCC to analyze resiliency design options including the building cladding, electrical systems locations, and structural systems. With the Blue River East campus design, building systems are intentionally elevated to remove them from flood plain proximity. Stormwater is also managed and maintained onsite.

By Alfredo Gonzalez

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