Ellsworth Air Force Base Dormitory Buildings

Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota

These new dorms provide housing that is apartment-style in nature consisting of private bedrooms and bathrooms with shared living room, kitchen and laundry room space. Each building contains a shared community space on the first floor that serve as links to the outdoor community space. The wood framed buildings are four stories each and are the first phase of a larger dormitory master plan. The site is arranged in a “kidney” shape, with the three buildings and connecting sidewalks fitting within the existing complex.

Design of the new dorm buildings is smaller in scale at approximately 20,000 SF each to honor the context of the prairie style aesthetic present on Base. An integrated approach to sustainable design focused on owner/user preference, sound practice, common sense and affordability, adhering to Guiding Principles for Sustainable Federal Buildings (HPSB Guiding Principles) and resulting in LEED Silver (NC v2009) Certification.

Due to the size and configuration of the dorms, they were designed according to the Anti-Terrorism/Force Protection (AT/FP) requirements of the Unified Facilities Criteria. These standards required blast loads to be applied to the exterior doors and windows based on specific protection and standoff values. The dorms were also designed to resist progressive collapse (PC), per the AT/FP requirements. PC design standards require the building to function under adjusted structural loads when exterior load bearing columns or walls are removed from the structural analysis model. This facility was required to be analyzed for more than 60 different PC scenarios.


US Army Corps of Engineers (agent) / US Department of the Air Force (owner)

At a glance

Design-build project

73,500 SF



Apartment style housing linked by community spaces

LEED Silver (NC v2009) Certified and adherence to Guiding Principles for Sustainable Federal Buildings (HPSB Guiding Principles)

AT/FP criteria


Project management


Interior design


Sustainable design