The Den at BCTC Honored with Prestigious Clyde Reynolds Carpenter Adaptive Re-Use Award from Blue Grass Trust

The Den at Bluegrass Community and Technical College (BCTC) has emerged as the winner of the coveted Clyde Reynolds Carpenter Adaptive Re-Use Award, presented by the esteemed Blue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation.
In a celebration of historic preservation and innovative architectural rehabilitation, The Den at Bluegrass Community and Technical College (BCTC) has been awarded the highly esteemed Clyde Reynolds Carpenter Adaptive Re-Use Award by the Blue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation. This prestigious accolade recognizes the exceptional efforts made by individuals or groups in the revitalization and adaptive re-use of buildings within Central Kentucky.
Constructed in 1906, The Den was one of multiple buildings built on the Newtown Pike campus of Eastern State Hospital, which was Kentucky's first mental hospital and the second oldest in the country. Unlike the southern colonial buildings that surrounded it on the campus, this building was more utilitarian in nature, providing the institution's laundry services and thus becoming known as the Laundry Building. A century later, the Kentucky Community & Technical College System (KCTCS) acquired the abandoned property to create a Bluegrass Community & Technical College (BCTC) campus and opted to rehabilitate the building to house student services, recognizing its unique architectural character and heritage.
The driver for the rehabilitation was BCTC's desire to consolidate its student services, which had been scattered across multiple campuses, in one convenient location. Omni Architects was selected to rehabilitate the structure, and the design team was immediately challenged with fitting BCTC's full range of student services - admission/advising services, financial aid, testing, bursar’s office, and campus bookstore - in this singular location. The program required more than double the square footage of the existing building, which meant an addition was needed to fulfill BCTC's vision for the project. But the addition had to be respectful of the architecture and history of the existing building.
Within this challenge, Omni Architects found many opportunities to preserve the character of the existing structure while introducing modern systems and finishes to make it more energy efficient and aesthetically relevant for students. The building offered several significant features worth salvaging, including exterior multi-withe masonry walls, steel roof trusses, and clerestory windows that introduced daylight and ventilation in a time when integrated lighting and conventional mechanical systems were nonexistent.
The openness of the volumetric cruciform floor plan was preserved through visual exposure of the double-height space. MEP systems were left exposed and integrated into the existing repetitive steel trusses overhead, which preserved the natural light that filtered into the building through the clerestory windows. New walls constructed within the space were painted white to provide a neutral background for the existing interior brick masonry and the charcoal-color steel trusses. The Visitor and Welcome Center at the crossroads of the existing building is flanked by a glass-enclosed orientation room and history gallery.
A low-rise corridor - referred to as 'the hyphen' - connects the addition to the historic building, creating a thirty-foot separation between the two structures that maintains the architectural integrity of the existing building. The addition demonstrates continuity to the existing architecture through clerestory windows that mimic those in the original structure and bring natural light into the center of the addition. The clerestory windows are treated differently than those in the existing structure to emphasize the relevance of each building's place in time. The choice and composition of the addition's exterior materials utilize a brick masonry similar in color to the original brick and a horizontal paneling system that emulates the mottled slate on the clerestory of the existing building and matches the panels on the new and adjacent structures on the campus. The integration of old and new is further enhanced through the ample green space and landscaping surrounding the structures.
The resulting complex is known as The Den, named in reference to a skulk of foxes that live on the site and to emphasize BCTC's focus on providing students with a comfortable and inviting one-stop location for the myriad of important services it houses. This single location reduces the anxiety students previously experienced when those services were dispersed across multiple campuses.
In contrast to the utilitarian function the Laundry Building once provided for the state's most vulnerable population, The Den is now light-filled and vibrant; filled with activities and services that help students become more successful on their path of education and in their future in general.