By Matthew Liedke
Old Main, the iconic building at North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton, is surrounded by a fence and closed off to the public as construction crews work to restore the facility.
Dallas Fossum, executive director of facilities management at NDSCS, labeled the renovation as a full remodel. The restoration is part of a larger project, funded by the North Dakota State Legislature, which provided more than $8 million in the last biennium for this purpose.
Besides remodeling Old Main, the project also included the demolition of Hektner and Burch Hall on campus as well as moving the IT services to the student center. The funding was requested as the school’s capital project.
Fossum said construction crews are in the demolition phase this week in preparation for the reconstruction.
“They’re starting on the fourth floor and making their way down. The insulators have also been here this week,” Fossum said.
The facility was originally built in 1891 and contained classrooms, dorms, faculty offices and a dining hall. However, as the years passed, Fossum said the building wasn’t fully utilized as before. The fourth floor was not used for many years.
“There have been smaller renovations in past years. The last one took place in the 1980s, but nothing close to this,” Fossum said. “We are reopeninghe fourth floor and during the remodel we are restoring as much of it as we can to its original look and feel.”
Included in the renovations are window replacements and maple wood floors that will be sanded down and refinished.
“This building is the icon of the campus. To revitalize it and bring it back will be great just from a historical view,” Fossum said.
Restoring the building to its original look has brought some challenges, though, which have made certain aspects more difficult than others.
“Installing the technology isn’t too bad. When you’re rebuilding walls and those kinds of things, you can bring the technology up to code,” Fossum said. “The difficult part is that these buildings weren’t built for the best insulation. We have a lot of work to insulate it. Also, putting in the mechanical equipment into the building. It wasn’t built to handle the air exchange system, so to fit the mechanical equipment, that’s where it’s tough.”
The hard work is likely to pay off in the end in Fossum’s opinion, though, as the restored Old Main will become a central hub for students.
“It will allow for more student space. It’s going to be a really student-driven building. The tutoring center will be there, academic services center, too. There will be some faculty offices, but it will be a predominantly student space,” Fossum said. “It’s really going to add a lot of value to the students. It’s centrally located on campus and very easily accessible.”
The renovations are expected to be complete and the building should be ready for move-in during the summer of 2015. Fossum said the building can then be used for classes in the 2015 fall semester.