UND building projects, totaling more than $180 million in public and private support, dot the campus
Hardhats and work boots are in style on the University of North Dakota campus this summer, with three major construction projects currently underway, another soon to begin and still another well on its way toward its fund-raising goal.
All told, more than $180 million in public and privately funded building projects are planned for campus, including the brand new School of Medicine & Health Sciences (SMHS) headquarters, a major expansion of the UND School of Law, and the first phase of a much-needed High Performance Center (indoor athletic facility). A major upgrade to Wilkerson Hall, a central student gathering and dining facility, also is slated to get rolling soon. And the College of Engineering & Mines is getting closer to its fund-raising goal to break ground on a Collaborative Energy Center.
One of these major building projects is the brand new School of Medicine & Health Sciences (SMHS) building being erected on the southwest corner of the intersection of North Columbia Road and Gateway Drive.
New medical school
This 325,000-gross-square-foot facility will incorporate, for the first time under one roof, all of the SMHS' departments, some of which have had to be housed in separate locations on campus for lack of space at the current SMHS headquarters.
The SMHS will create an environment where the various medical fields will interact with each other and learn about fields outside of their own profession. The students will also have 24/7 access to the building.
This project was made possible thanks to a $122.45 million allocation ― spread over two biennia ― from the 2013 State Legislature (plus a reserve of $1.55 million held by the State Board of Higher Education).
The new SMHS is anticipated to be completed by the summer of 2016.
School of Law expansion
For the second time in nearly a century, the UND School of Law school is undergoing some major renovations and additions.
The only other major renovation to the Law School that has been made was addition of the Law Library, which took place more than 40 years ago.
The 2013 North Dakota State Legislature and Gov. Jack Dalrymple approved a $11.4 million appropriation for an addition to and renovation of the Law School to enhance the student experience and better prepare lawyers for legal practice. In addition to the legislative appropriation, the Law School is currently raising funds necessary to complete the full renovation project.
There will be a special ceremony held in recognition of the construction project and to thank those who have made it possible. This ceremony will take place during Homecoming Week at UND, at noon, Friday, Oct. 10, on the lawn in front of the Chester Fritz Library. In case of rain, the ceremony will be moved inside the Chester Fritz Library.
Throughout the planning process, the Law School has focused the addition and renovations on its students to improve the educational space as well as the student experience.
Plans for the building include a renovated legal clinic, additional classrooms, meeting and seminar rooms, and the addition of a modern teaching courtroom that complements the more traditional, ceremonial Baker Courtroom.
The Law Library will be renovated to add student study and work spaces, with an emphasis on service rather than shelving, and the entire building will have more student gathering and study spaces.
It is anticipated, law students will be back in the School by fall 2015.
High Performance Center
UND has started building an Athletics High Performance Center east of Memorial Stadium. Athletic Director Brian Faison has called this building a "game changer" for UND Athletics.
All UND Athletics teams and community members will be able to use this complex. It will serve a major indoor practice facility for UND athletes and a host site for youth and collegiate events.
This building will allow teams and student-athletes to train year-round, regardless of weather conditions. For example, the football team will now be able to have a solid spring practice schedule completely out of the winter elements.
The center also addresses UND's need for a better track and throwing areas for training and competitions for the track and field teams.
It will also enable UND to host track and field events at all levels, from high school to the Big Sky Conference championships.
The estimated cost for the first phase of the project is $17.8 million. The funding for this facility comes from private and corporate gifts and sponsorships.
Features for the Center include a full-sized artificial turf football practice field with areas for linemen drills, an NCAA official 300-meter eight lane running track, locations for pole vaulting, long and triple jump, shot put, and high jump.
The next phase, is estimated to cost another $15 to $16 million for the project, will include athletic training facilities for student-athletes, meeting rooms, coaches offices, locker rooms, and academic support center and house the primary strength and conditioning areas for the athletics department.
The estimated completion date for the Athletics High Performance Center is late spring or early summer of 2015.
Another welcome improvement ― especially by the students ― is the renovation of Wilkerson Hall.
"Wilkerson is a 1960's building that has had minimal renovations," said Laurie Betting, associate vice president for health and wellness at UND. "It's time was well overdue."
The new Wilkerson was designed to support key UND Health & Wellness tenets: learn, support, event, live, play, and food.
On the dining center side of things, Wilkerson will feature eight cooking service platforms, upon which food will be prepared right in front of students; a chef's demonstration cooking platform to demonstrate healthy cooking techniques, and expanded food options.
Wilkerson will also feature private dining areas, where sports teams and other groups will all be able to eat together and where students can meet with faculty members and discuss subjects while enjoying a freshly prepared meal.
Not only will Wilkerson be the place to eat, but it also will be the place to meet and catch up with friends. It will have individual and group study areas, larger collaboration spaces, a lounge with fireplace for socializing or electronic gaming, a stage for entertainment events, and an attractive architectural design, in which the students had a hand in choosing.
UND students also will have 24/7 access to the building, Betting said.
Students are expected to be able to enjoy this building by fall of 2015.
Collaborative Energy Complex
UND's College of Engineering & Mines also plans on building a Collaborative Energy Complex (CEC) with the aim of stimulating innovation, problem-solving and futuristic ideas. It will promote hands-on experience, outreach, enriched lab experiences and industry partnerships between the University and the energy profession.
The 30,000-plus square-foot CEC will be erected on the southeast part of campus between UND's existing Leonard Hall and Upson I. The new CEC will bridge those two facilities, forming a major engineering education and research complex on campus that will include Upson Hall I & II, Harrington Hall and the nearby Wilson M. Laird Core and Sample Library.
The CEC will primarily serve as a new headquarters for the rapidly growing department of petroleum engineering and the Institute for Energy Studies. Currently, the Engineering College is bursting at the seams with petroleum engineering students, fueled by the oil boom in western North Dakota. The petroleum engineering program went from about a dozen to more than 300 students in just four years.
The CEC also will include cutting-edge labs, such as a drilling and reservoir analysis areas, and a "creativity gymnasium." It is being designed to provide students and faculty a place to interact and collaborate with each other, as well as with colleagues from industry, other campus units and beyond.
The Engineering College has a goal to raise $15.5 million for this building, and it is about three-quarters of the way there. This venture is privately funded, however, the North Dakota Higher Education Challenge Fund has allowed the state to provide a 50 percent match for each privately-raised dollar.
The College plans to have students using the new CEC by fall of 2017.
University & Public Affairs student writer
UND School of Law Dean Kathryn Rand getting started on the school's major renovation. Photo by Rob Carolin.