Community outreach programs are all about offering support to citizens and the local community. The construction of the Outreach Center for the Lincoln University Cooperative Extension (LUCE) at Lincoln University in Sikeston, Missouri also incorporated public and environmental protections.
Opened in October 2021, the Outreach Center replaces an older and smaller building in favor of a new space to support the many initiatives of the program. This includes improved academic achievement, abstinence education, childhood obesity, entrepreneurial information, nutritional development and job preparation.
“The dream has finally been realized,” said Brenda Robinson-Echols, LUCE regional coordinator. “I look forward to doing programs for this area for many years to come.”
Resources to provide education and support for underserved populations in the area include state-of-the-art classrooms, multi-purpose space, computer lab and offices. The open layout encourages collaboration and social interaction. Natural light fills the skylight hallways, and windows throughout the space look onto the neighboring Lincoln Memorial Park.
“It has been very rewarding for us to lead this project with Lincoln University that will help spur community revitalization efforts, while providing a new model for sustainable and environmentally responsible development in Sikeston,” said Project Designer Tony Patterson, partner at Patterhn Ives.
The location of the Sikeston Outreach Center is referred to as the Sunset Addition. It’s an area of town that once hummed with African-American families and culture. However, the neighborhood has been in decline for the past 20 years, so this project embraces more than a single building. In fact, the master plan for the 13 vacant lots the university purchased for the project includes many community elements, such as shared garden plots with demonstration gardens, water harvesting and reuse capabilities, an outdoor classroom and a path.
With the community and student safety in mind, the Outreach Center was built to be earthquake resistant. It is located by the New Madrid Fault. As such, it stands as also a community storm shelter. In addition to the brick walls and supports offering seismic resistance to the structure, the masonry naturally moderates temperatures to improve energy efficiency. The brick is highly durable to stand up to the demands of a high-traffic building and offers fire resistance, as well as soundproofing characteristics. With respect to strict budget constraints, the brick was left exposed to minimize finishing costs.
In addition to brick, other natural materials and building supplies were locally sourced in support of artisans and minimize transport emissions.
Images via Patterhn Ives