New Building at SWC Adds Form to Function

Nov 15th, 2004 | By | Category: 16-2: Tribal College Research, Tribal College News

DRUMMING FOR THE HEAVENS. The roof of the SWC Vocational Technical Education building will eventually be used to study traditional Dakota astronomy.

Sisseton Wahpeton College (SWC, Sisseton, SD) has added a unique building to its campus – a 50-foot high, octagon-shaped drum surrounded by a fiberglass structure representing four Dakota singers.

The building is the collaborative effort of Lakota artist Victor Runnels of Aberdeen, SD, and architect Dean Marske of the architectural firm Herges, Kirchgasler, Geisler and Associates, also of Aberdeen.

The large, open center of the drum will house the Vocational Technical Education program. The perimeter of the lower and upper floors consists of classrooms and offices. Two of the chambers of the Dakota figures will be used for storage, one for a stairway, and the fourth for an elevator. In the future, SWC hopes to use the wand of one of the drumsticks to sleeve an antenna for wireless Internet service.

The roof of the voc-ed building is designed to accommodate up to 300 people for open-air events such as banquets or graduations. It will also play a future role in a NASA-funded project on traditional Dakota astronomy in which the college is involved.

Another unusual feature of the roof is the tiling. As part of SWC’s fundraising campaign, one can “purchase” a tile on which a message, memorial, or tribute can be engraved as a permanent part of the building.

Other construction nearing completion at SWC includes the Siceca Learning Center for young children; the log cabin cultural arts center, which will host cultural events and feature artists in residence; and the bookstore in the main foyer, which will carry textbooks, books of general interest for all ages, and cultural items (like art and beading supplies, jewelry, and clothing).

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