Located along the Missouri River in the heartland of Montana lies the third largest city in the state, Great Falls. In a small area just east of downtown sits an architectural marvel that may be one of the most intact examples of International Style architecture in America today: the University of Providence.
Originally founded in 1932 as the Great Falls Junior College for Women, the school went through numerous iterations until 1958, when the organization commissioned Page & Werner Architects to design the 22-acre campus that they still call home today. 60 years later, the campus remains remarkably unchanged since the day it opened, and the architectural consistency across campus is something to be celebrated.
In 2016, the University of Providence embarked on a comprehensive effort to expand and upgrade existing programs, as part of their goal to transform their campus into a nationally-recognized institution for educating health professionals. Following a campus-wide master plan, NAC provided design services for the renovation of their existing Student Union, and a new University Center. These projects were a prominent step toward the campus’s exciting new future, and it was essential that each building embodied the new direction of the institution. Equally important, however, was the need for the design to preserve and celebrate the rich history of the University of Providence.
How do you successfully create inspiring spaces that support the future vision of an institution while honoring such an impactful architectural legacy? You go straight to the source.
Ron van der Veen, FAIA, LEED AP
Ron van der Veen is a principal at NAC Architecture who has dedicated his career to designing sustainable live/learn communities for higher education campuses across the country. His approach focuses on understanding the student demographic he is designing for, and how the building can positively impact their academic performance and personal sense of well-being.