Construction Underway on Project to Improve Campus Landscape, Recognize Southeast NPHC Organizations


Site preparation is underway for a National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) Plaza, designed to highlight NPHC groups and their history at Southeast, in the northeast corner of Parker Field at Southeast Missouri State University.

The NPHC Plaza will provide a greenspace for student recreation and events and recognize Southeast’s NPHC chapters.

The NPHC governs and represents the eight historically African-American fraternities and sororities recognized at Southeast, including Alpha Phi Alpha, Iota Phi Theta, Omega Psi Phi and Phi Beta Sigma fraternities and Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta, Sigma Gamma Rho and Zeta Phi Beta sororities.

The focal point of the Plaza design is a circular patio with a hardened surface and a central landscaping feature. The patio is partially bordered by a low concrete wall with markers. From the central patio, a landscaped set of four terraces fall away in a concentric semi-circular pattern, and each terrace is bounded by a low concrete wall that provides seating. The lower terrace is also a hardened surface. The overall design includes trees to shade the terraces. The Plaza will serve as an event venue and informal recreation space.

“The intent is for the Plaza to serve as an outdoor gathering area and a space where outdoor events can be held,” said Dr. Bruce Skinner, associate vice president for student life. “It will allow student events to be hosted in this area as the plaza will have lighting and electrical access for students to use.”

An important design element is the integration of markers that present information about each of the eight NPHC chapters that Southeast recognizes.

“The major benefit, outside of an outdoor gathering area, is the effort by the University and NPHC students to improve the profile of these student groups and their history at Southeast,” said Skinner. “The NPHC Plaza highlights the work of NPHC students and alumni on the Southeast campus.”

NPHC members have been instrumental throughout the project.

“From the first steps, all the way through to the layout, marker design and information on the markers, each step has included involvement from members of NPHC,” Skinner said.

The design developed from the requests of students in Southeast’s NPHC organizations. They shared with the University examples of plots and gardens at other colleges and universities that highlighted the presence of NPHC organizations on those campuses. The University shared the examples with an architect, who developed a variety of different concepts which were shared with a wider group of NPHC students. The University and students then took ideas from the various options and, with attention to the goals of the Campus Landscape Master Plan, developed the final design.

The eastern edge of the Plaza features a hardened surface ramp to provide ADA accessibility between the patio and the lower terrace. The ramp will also satisfy a portion of accessibility along the central pedestrian corridor.

Landscape architecture firm SWT Design of St. Louis developed the design. Nip Kelley Equipment Company of Cape Girardeau will serve as the general contractor and will be involved with storm drainage and concrete flatwork. KT Power Systems of Cape Girardeau will provide the electrical work, and Kiefner Brothers, Inc. of Cape Girardeau will perform the remaining concrete work. Engraphix Architectural Signage, Inc. of St. Louis will provide signage and plaques.

Facilities Management has coordinated the design development and bidding of the project and will manage the construction. The University grounds crews will install the irrigation system, sod and plantings. The project began in March during Spring Break week and is expected to conclude in late July.

The Plaza marks the beginning of improvements of an area identified in the Campus Landscape Master Plan as the central quadrangle and a related section of the central pedestrian corridor. The corridor is the major north-south walkway through campus. This project is a continuation of enhancements that have already been made to the corridor, which include the addition of a fountain and improved stairs at the Jeanine Larson Dobbins Plaza between the Mark F. Scully Building and Rhodes Hall of Science and the improved staircases between Brandt Hall and the Boiler Plant.

The central quadrangle is bounded by Scully, General Services 2 and Parker Hall, encompassing Parker Field and the former band practice field. This area is considered the heart of the central pedestrian corridor. The plan’s goals include preservation of the campus’s character and park-like setting, establishment of a sense of community and well-being, adaptability to future needs and enhancement of the pedestrian environment.