In a building lease partnership between the North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives (NDAREC) and Bismarck State College (BSC), students interested in becoming a lineworker can learn the trade and safely test their skills indoors. JLG worked closely with BSC to determine the indoor arena and classroom needs of the lineworker degree, analyzing 26,337 SF in a building owned by NDAREC. The resulting design, completed in October 2022, accounts for future expansion and collaboration, allowing up to 60 students in class at once, with three classrooms offering window views into the 200’ x 90’ indoor arena. The new classrooms double the student capacity and can be divided into two sections for flexible learning. Within the footprint, instructor office space made way for four individual offices and a workspace for small conferences or part-time instructors during program growth.
To bring diffused natural light into the space without glare, JLG incorporated translucent panels around the indoor arena and 40-foot ceilings – incorporating common lineworker visuals of asphalt pavement, trees and grass, and multiple sky types. The height of this space allows students and trainees to set highline poles indoors during inclement weather, extreme cold, or strong winds. The design also addressed the challenge of students entering the building from outdoor training, including a custom floor drain and metal grate installed in a concrete floor to minimize dirt, rock, and debris. The two-story common space creates transparency that gives visitors, NDAREC board members, and instructors the ability to observe what is happening within the arena while positioned safely out of danger through windows at the main or mezzanine level. The mezzanine is also where students are encouraged to study or dine between classes without leaving the building. With a modern/industrial exterior inspired by the nearby NDAREC headquarters, BSC is providing a safe and flexible training space that visually enhances the program’s identity, reinforces industry workforce, and entices new students to join the program.