Amundson is next building up for renovation on East Bank

by Matt Herbert

The University of Minnesota is gearing up to renovate and expand Amundson Hall.

In addition to replacing the wall of windows that faces Washington Avenue and making the building more energy efficient, the University is planning a 23,000-square-foot expansion. Together, the project will cost an estimated $20 million.

Kathleen OâÄôBrien, vice president of University Services, said the renovation will be discussed as part of the University’s six-year project plan when the Board of Regents meet Thursday and Friday this week. The project also will seek funds from private donors.

âÄúWe are unsure how much funding will come from private money,âÄù OâÄôBrien said.

She emphasized that the project is still in the planning stage. The University is in the process of finding an architect to design the expansion.

Amundson Hall currently quarters the Chemical Engineering and Materials Science Department, the Industrial Partnership for Research, and the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center. The expansion would provide space for a growing number of students and faculty, said Eray Aydil, associate department director of chemical engineering and material science.

âÄúThis will allow us to accommodate about 30 percent more undergraduate students âĦ [and] will support about six more faculty members and about 50 more graduate students in the [department],âÄù Aydil said.

Though Aydil said the project isnâÄôt due to ongoing Central Corridor light-rail construction, it comes at an opportune time âÄî some labs and research will be moved to the other side of the building to protect them from vibrations.

Classes may need to be moved around the building, but no students would have to go to an entirely different building because of the construction.

The University initially opposed the light-rail construction due to a fear of adverse effects on laboratories along Washington Avenue. The University dropped its lawsuit against the Metropolitan Council last fall.

âÄúThe [expansion] will allow us to gain great efficiency by repacking the building,âÄù Aydil said. âÄúBut we will try to keep all classes within Amundson Hall during construction.âÄù

If everything is approved, construction may begin in fall 2012 and conclude before classes start in fall of 2013, Aydil said.

Abdulla Malek, a first-year chemical engineering graduate student, said he welcomed the expansion.

âÄúI think itâÄôs necessary because there need to be updates in classrooms and labs,âÄù Malek said. âÄúWe need more spacious classrooms. They need to feel more like classes rather than lectures.âÄù

Biomedical engineering junior Isak Ivanic said he hopes the renovation will allow more students to perform their research within the building.

Malek added that many existing rooms in Amundson need improvements.

âÄúThere are areas that leak water and labs that need to be updated,âÄù Malek said.