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United Reveals Design Concept for New Space

Nearly ten months after the Trustees unanimously voted to relocate the United Theological Seminary campus, plans for the new space were shared in meetings this week with students, faculty, and staff.

The campus plan was developed through focus groups and meetings with students, alumni, faculty, staff, and Trustees. Input from these many perspectives was aggregated into core themes and then incorporated into a plan that works to achieve the qualities that each constituent thought critical for United.

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The architect, Doug Pierce from the firm of Perkins+Will synthesized key requirements of the space through a Design Essence that he described in the following way:

  • The new United design should be representative of the ministry of tomorrow – spatially inclusive communal space that nurtures interpersonal connectivity
  • The Chapel / Church has been sacred physical space – its boundaries are now expanding to be more inclusive of the community

The Design Essence led to the following essential qualities that became the Design Drivers developed from the focus group learnings:

  • Inclusivity and radical hospitality
  • Building community over shared meals
  • The ability to express creativity and display art
  • Sacred space for diverse religious identities
  • Sustainability and care for the earth
  • Student-centered teaching and learning for both on campus and distance education students
  • Comfortable and functional educational spaces including classrooms, student gathering areas and enhanced technology capabilities
  • Balancing teaching and community space with administrative space in a way that prioritizes students and community 
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The new United campus design envisions an L-shaped space with a large Great Hall for classrooms, the library, and community space. The center of the community includes the chapel, a space for creative exploration and expression called the “Intersection” and dining areas that are predominated by large harvest tables for shared meals. 

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 At the end of the presentation of the space design to United students, one student, Kim Graff, commented; “the design team should be complimented for listening carefully and working so hard to incorporate our many ideas!” The meeting concluded with a round of applause and excitement from students.



 It is anticipated that the business arrangements for the new location will be finalized by the end of August, when the new address will be announced. Construction will be started in early September and classes for the Spring 2019 semester will be conducted on the new campus.

Look for another update next week with details about upcoming town halls to ask your move related questions and details about Doug’s next visit.

Dr. Lewis P. Zeidner

Dr. Lewis P. Zeidner is the President of United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities.

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