By Eric Althoff
FERGUSON, Mo.—KAI Enterprises, a minority-owned designer and builder, along with general contractor PARIC Corp., has broken ground on the $62 million Center for Nursing and Health Sciences at St. Louis Community College’s (STLCC) Florissant Valley campus in Ferguson. KAI is also serving as MEP engineer on the buildout, which is anticipated to be finished for the fall of 2024. The Center for Nursing and Health Sciences will be the first program at STLCC’s Florissant Valley campus to offer a bachelor’s degree.
A dearth of healthcare professionals is projected to continue in the next decade, requiring more new workers than ever before. And perhaps Ferguson, which has endured much hardship, is the perfect location for such a new chapter to commence.
The four-story, 100,000-square-foot building will train healthcare professionals for the jobs of tomorrow in classrooms dedicated to such specialties as radiology, nursing, deaf communications and dental hygiene. Students will also participate in simulated practical scenarios in emergency medicine as well as practice holistic medicine and patient engagement.
“This state-of-the-art building will enable us to provide an even richer environment for the next generation of front-line healthcare heroes in the St. Louis region,” Florissant Valley Campus President and Chief Academic Officer Elizabeth Gassel Perkins said at the groundbreaking ceremony. “Students who study and learn in this facility will be well prepared to excel as they enter the workforce.
“Of course, we are most excited that this new building will provide an opportunity for the expansion of programs to the North St. Louis County area.”
KAI and its partners are aiming for LEED v4 Silver certification; the architects are placing particular emphasis on accessibility and inclusivity in their design. The architects worked with campus administrators and educators to fashion a new learning environment that will be both engaging and challenging for healthcare students.
“This new building is historic for the Florissant Valley campus because it will not only serve to fill the dire need for healthcare professionals, but it will also establish the entry point of this campus and serve as a landmark for many generations to come,” KAI Chairman Michael E. Kennedy Sr. said at the groundbreaking.
“The biggest challenge will be to have the facility substantially complete several months before the fall 2025 semester so the college can move all of the furnishings and equipment into the facility,” Mike Pratl, Principal and Market Leader at KAI, said in a subsequent statement to School Construction News.
KAI Enterprises, which was founded in 1980, has since grown to become one of the largest minority-owned firms within the AEC industry. Under its umbrella, the company operates four distinct units: KAI Design, KAI Engineering, KAI Build and KAI 360 Construction Services.