Students moving into the University of Minnesota’s Pioneer Hall next Monday will probably want to spend more time in the dormitory than past students, according to the architects who designed its reconstruction.
Pioneer Hall residents ranked it as the second-most dissatisfying dorm at the university’s Minneapolis campus prior to its closure in 2017, said Brian Morse, a senior architect with St. Paul-based TKDA. It is the second-oldest residence hall on campus. Built in two phases, the newest dating to 1928, the hall was cramped and lacked basic features including ventilation, elevators and a sprinkler system.
“Fitting all that into the limited space of the old building was the biggest design challenge we had,” Morse said in a Friday interview.
Once construction workers opened up the building at 615 Fulton St. SE, they found that plumbing and other infrastructure added over the decades had compromised the structure.
“There was a lot of concealed damage,” Morse said.
The new dining hall on Pioneer Hall’s ground floor will accommodate more than three times as many students as it did previously. (Submitted illustration: TKDA)
Renovation work that started in October 2017 had general contractor McGough Construction demolish 60-percent of the five-story building, leaving a few bits of original exterior wings. From there, Roseville-based McGough rebuilt Pioneer Hall into a 177,000-square foot configuration that included a new central spine section, new mechanical systems and an expansion of the building’s dining hall from 285 seats to 850 seats. Student living quarters were also expanded from 693 beds on four floors to 756 beds on five floors.
The $104.5 million project also includes modernized common and recreational spaces as well as office and support spaces in a footprint that is 40 percent larger than the original.
The building retains some of its original character. Original, floor-to-ceiling wood paneling walls were removed prior to demolition and stored for two years before being installed in a new main lobby. Original lighting fixtures and student mailboxes were also returned to the new building, and the overall exterior look was either preserved or replaced with a complementary style, Morse said.
Joining the new and old wasn’t an easy task for the design and construction teams, said Jesse Turner, a McGough project manager.
“There was a lot of brainstorming,” he said
Although the floors of the four wings of the original building lined up within inches of one another when the center was demolished, the intersection of new and historic materials was complicated, said Turner. The “archaic” clay and concrete floor slabs of the old building had to be shored up when the center of the building and exterior walls were removed.
The new, post-tension concrete floors were built within 2 feet of the old ones. The floors were then joined with reinforcing steel rods and poured concrete, Turner said.
An overhead photo shows the rebuilt Pioneer Hall at the U of M’s Minneapolis campus. (Submitted illustration: TKDA)
Pioneer Hall’s original wood roof was also replaced with steel and synthetic slate installed in the reimagined iteration.
During the two years of construction, McGough had an average of about 150 workers on site daily. The company also brought on 41 subcontractors to complete the project, Turner said.
TKDA’s Morse said he will be at Pioneer Hall on Monday. He believed the reimagined dorm will feel like home not only for new students, but also for parents or grandparents of those students who once walked the halls of the building.
Pioneer Hall is the third U of M residence hall TKDA has worked on in recent years, according to a press release from the company. KWK Architects of St. Louis has been on the design team for all those projects.
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