Planned renovations will uproot departments

Amy Olson

As buildings across campus close for renovation, 34 academic departments will soon pack their bags and move to new accommodations.
In April, the University received $206.8 million from the Legislature as part of the capital budget request to renovate campus buildings. Starting next fall, some of those buildings will close while construction workers make upgrades.
Michael Berthelsen from the Office of Budget and Finance described it as the single largest move attempted at the University at a single time.
Orlyn Miller, a senior planner in Facilities Management, said the renovations will require 20 academic units and 14 other partial units to move. Of the 34 affected units, 19 will move permanently.
Miller said four units will move to transitional spaces, where they will stay three to five years until permanent space can be found. Another 11 departments will move to temporary facilities until renovations are complete, and then return to former locations.
Minor repairs will be made on a number of buildings to accommodate new occupants while other buildings will experience extensive renovation. These renovations will require occupants to remain in temporary accommodations for three to five years.
In addition to moving buildings, some department moves will require a change of campuses as well.
The School of Social Work will move permanently to Peters Hall on the St. Paul campus after the building is renovated. The school is currently housed in Ford Hall on the East Bank.
The social work school is not alone, however. The philosophy department, currently housed in Ford Hall, is one example of what Miller called an “intermediate” move. It will move to the West Bank, though Miller and Berthelsen indicated the department might move back to the East Bank after renovations.
The art history and anthropology departments will move to space on the West Bank formerly occupied by the Carlson School of Management.
The largest construction project is the new molecular and cellular biology complex. Professors and University employees who currently work in Lyon Laboratories and Millard and Owre halls will move to neighboring Jackson Hall while the three buildings are torn down to create room for the new building.
Miller said departments that cannot be accommodated in Jackson Hall will be moved to Moos Towers, Phillips Wangensteen, Mayo and Basic Sciences buildings.
Walter Library will also be renovated to house the new digital technology center. During the renovations, Miller said most of the library’s collections will be relocated to Wilson Library and the new Library Access Building that is under construction.
Miller said after the renovations have been completed, Walter Library will retain half the current square footage devoted to library functions.
Administrators said temporary inconvenience of construction will justify long term convenience of the new facilities.
In the past, Berthelsen said professors and students were allowed to stay to minimize the inconvenience caused by moving, but the noise from construction caused difficulties for professors and students alike. This time, buildings will be vacated while construction workers make upgrades.
While department offices may move this year, most classes will not move until the fall of 1999. Miller said department offices will move before classes because there is less office space available than there are classrooms.