Planned 2020 Weld Renovations Hinge on State Funding

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BY: Katie Betz, betzka@mnstate.edu

Weld Hall may get a makeover in the next year and a half.
Brenda Norris, executive director of facilities management at MSUM, explained that the target time for renovations to Weld Hall is a year from this fall. The state gave MSUM $628,000 to design the project. Norris explained that they will be asking for $17 million for completion. The cost includes construction, consultants for design and planning, furniture, testing and any surprise costs which may come up as Weld is renovated, according to Norris.
They won’t be able to ask for money until the spring of 2020 for the legislature’s next session. In charge of the project is a steering committee made up of several representatives from camps. YHR Partners out of Moorhead have been hired as designers for the project.
According to Norris, the extent of the renovations would include putting in all new finishes and redoing the interior of the building. The changes to the outside would be minimal, mostly consisting of touching up the brick and replacing windows and roofing. Norris said they are hoping to add some small additions to the building to help traffic move through more easily and improve the building’s accessibility.
Weld is the next building in line for a renovation on the campus’ master plan. Weld is a capital project funded by the state, unlike the dorms and wellness center, which are revenue funded.
“There’s no guarantee we will get that money next summer, but we’re trying to prepare these documents to support our cause. Hopefully we’ve convinced our system office and then the legislature that these are real needs, so that they grant us that money,” Norris said.
She explained that a project as big as renovating Weld needs multiple predesign studies given to the state. These studies act as a plea for why the school should be given the money needed to do the project.
According to Norris, there have been at least three predesign studies done in recent years, in 2014, 2016 and 2018. The state granted them the $628,000 in July of 2018 to proceed with design.
“There have not been any renovations to Weld Hall in 50 years,” Norris said.
The predesign document lays out the reasons Weld may need a renovation, including deferred maintenance, building code deficiencies, ADA code deficiencies and improving Glasrud Auditorium.
According to Norris, the time frame needed to complete this level of renovation is a little over a year, potentially starting in September or October of 2020 and ending in December of 2021. During this time, the English department, New Rivers Press, Alumni Foundation offices and the classes held in Weld will need to find a temporary home elsewhere. Norris said that they are working on finding temporary locations for each of these entities.
Stephen Hamrick is one of the members of the steering committee. His role is to represent the faculty to the administration and help the committee understand the student use of the classroom as well as giving them the faculty’s and students’ thoughts. He is a professor in the English department who has taught in Weld Hall for the 16 years he has been at MSUM.
“I feel good and hopeful about the project,” Hamrick said. “The architects and agencies hired to help with this project … have had excellent experience with historical buildings. And as our first couple of meetings indicated, their goal is to maintain the historical beauty of the building while updating it to make it a space that students and performers can use.”
He hopes that the remodel will be able to hold on to what is best about the building while allowing it to be used more fully. Hamrick said that the building renovation is long overdue but needs to be done right.
“I’m also invested in the building personally and professionally. I love teaching in the building, and I love my office here,” Hamrick said. “I want to make sure that I’m aware of what the changes are and can communicate those to students and to faculty and then get their feedback and bring it back to the committee.”
He explained adaptable teaching spaces are the renovation which is most important to him. Hamrick said that having a computer classroom is important to teaching professional and technical writing classes as well as publishing classes.
“New Rivers Press is a teaching press, and the integrated English publishing is a unique program in the region and in the country. We need to have computerized teaching classrooms, tech ready,” he said.
One option Hamrick discussed is having wired classrooms with computer carts with laptops for students to use.
A unique fact about the last renovation is that it took a balcony out of Weld. With this new renovation, they are considering putting the balcony back in, Norris said.
“I think because we have received the design funding it would put us in a favorable spot to get construction dollars, but there is a chance that they may not approve any additional building projects,” Norris said. “But we’re hopeful that we will.”

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