Merit - SCUP Excellence in Architecture for a New Building

Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU)

Innovation and Design Education building (IDE)
Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) - Innovation and Design Education building (IDE)
Jury Comments
“loved this project—beautiful . . . interesting project that advances teaching innovation in a significant way . . . for a design-build, getting unique features speaks volumes . . . convincing quasi-vernacular contemporary approach”


    • Site – 163,00 sq ft; Building – 67,000 gsf / 42,440 nsf
    • The IDE is placed centrally within the campus, framing
      a new quadrangle, and providing order within a precinct near existing academic and student life buildings.
    • The materials chosen both externally and internally create a welcoming look and feel that is novel for a STEM building.
    • The use of design-build delivery helped fast-track the project.
    • Faculty offices are spread throughout the building, next to the lab spaces, where students can easily find their professors.
    • Emphasis is placed on the openness of spaces and choice of materials to make the building more welcoming to the entire community.
    • The exterior façade was modeled after a traditional New England barn whose silhouette is repeated around the campus.


The IDE was conceived after Daniel Webster College merged into
Engineering, Technology and Aeronautics (CETA). This new building is a key piece in support of the 2018-2023 strategic plan, which calls for SNHU to develop specialized programs and expand new STEM programs. CETA’s purpose is to make STEM education accessible to everyone.

During the design process, the project became a catalyst for SNHU to have a collective conversation and define its vision for the future of STEM education. How could the needs of the region be connected to a unique approach for delivering STEM education? Early brainstorming, programming, and planning sessions involved students, faculty, and administration in crafting a shared vision for the new college. Tours of peer institutions provided context to developing a unique approach for the IDE. The Engineering Annex became an incubator for testing ideas to provide real-time feedback to the team. Students played an active role in establishing design goals and participating during construction.

CETA’s CDIO (Conceive, Design, Implement, Operate) curriculum framework encourages engineering students to develop hands-on design thinking and is reflected on the “hubs.” The IDE building’s design planning is flexible and adaptable to allow for the curriculum’s evolution over time, and provides students a range of space for studying and sharing ideas with the goal of having the building meet the learner’s need instead of the student having to adapt to the space.

The IDE is now a prominent beacon within SNHU’s campus core, placing engineering on display within the academic experience and inviting other disciplines to share the space. Modular planning allows for a high degree of lab adaptability where, as the CDIO curriculum evolves, CETA can act as the incubator space for testing new teaching methodologies and ideas for connecting on-campus education with SNHU’s online course content.

Project Team

HGA; Skanska USA Building; Rist-Frost Shumway Engineering, P.C.; Simon Design Engineering; Studio 2112; Mohar Design; TFMoran Inc.