The UND campus has been buzzing with recent construction projects, including the renovation of the Chester Fritz Library, the construction of the new Memorial Union, and the building of the Nistler College of Business and Public Administration.
This buzz will continue with a planned renovation of the Merrifield and Twamley halls, followed by the teardown and dismantling of two other buildings.
The price of the Merrifield and Twamley renovation is expected to be $79 million, according to UND administrators. A significant appropriation from the recent special session of the Legislative Assembly will offset the majority of this cost.
On Monday, November 15, Governor Doug Burgum signed a spending bill that will provide more than $62 million for construction and research projects. The money comes from the state’s allocation of federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act. UND administrators are excited about how these funds will help bring the projects to fruition.
UND spokesman David Dodds said the Merrifield renovation will consolidate the College of Arts and Sciences onto the university quadrangle. Students take classes at Merrifield, but also at Columbia Hall, along Columbia Road. The renovations are part of UND’s long-term plan to reduce its footprint by 320,000 square feet, eventually demolishing Gamble and Columbia rooms. This will eliminate approximately $120 million in needed repairs to these buildings.
“This is really exciting news for the UND campus,” Dodds said. “It’s going to do a lot of great things for us – a lot of things that we badly need.”
Once started, residents of Merrifield will migrate to Gamble Hall during renovations. When complete they will step back and then work will begin to convert Twamley into an office building for the faculty. The project will likely start when work on the Nistler building is complete in the spring.
DeAnna Carlson Zink, CEO of the UND Alumni Foundation, said there was a philanthropic component to the renovation projects. Legislative funding for Merrifield and Twamley Halls is capped at $50 million. Zink said the team is already preparing to approach donors and friends of the university for the remaining $29 million for the projects.
“Our alumni love these projects where they can partner with the state,” she said. “It’s such a win-win for the university. We greatly appreciate the Legislative Assembly and the Governor who have invested this money to partner with our alumni and create a tremendous impact for our students. »
Zink said people frequently spoke to him about their memories of Merrifield Hall, and they often said it was their favorite site on campus. For decades, the majestic building has been a centerpiece of the UND campus, its architecture inspiring respect for the education students receive there.
Built in 1929, the building has undergone renovations over the years, including the installation of an elevator and fire alarms in 1974, but never a complete overhaul, according to Brian Larson, director of construction management at UND. . Larson said the Merrifield redevelopment will include updated classrooms and all necessary building infrastructure. The building also needs an ADA compliant entrance.
Of the state appropriations for the UND, $10 million has been earmarked for a space education and research initiative. The initiative will be a multidisciplinary approach to research that will better position the university to partner with government entities such as the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security. State funding will be bundled with an additional $4 million allocated by the Legislative Assembly in the previous regular session.
The funds will be used to create an unmanned aerial vehicle and satellite materials laboratory. Equipment, including a high-resolution transmission electron microscope and a nanosmelter, will need to be purchased.
According to Brad Rundquist, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, a nanofoundry is used in the production of nanoscale products. Products at this scale are approximately 1 to 100 nanometers. By comparison, human red blood cells are about 7,000 nanometers wide and human hair is 50,000 to 100,000 nanometers wide.
“Recent strategic investments from UND and the State of North Dakota allow us to expand our materials research group by adding next-generation ‘smart’ materials experts with leading applications in the design of space-based and UAS platforms and sensors,” Rundquist said. “We will also be able to acquire the sophisticated tools we need to develop, test and deploy smart materials, and we are uniquely placed to do so through our collaborations with the College of Engineering and Mines, the College of Aerospace Sciences and the School of medicine and health sciences.
As for the SMHS, more than $2 million has been spent on research into hyperbaric oxygen therapy. According to Joshua Wynne, Dean of SMHS, the school will partner with the Dakota Medical Foundation and Essentia Health in Fargo to study how the treatment can help treat conditions that have not been successfully treated elsewhere, including the so-called aftermath of the “long COVID”. .
“We’re very excited about this, but it’s very preliminary because the (spending bill) has just been signed into law,” Wynne said. “We have worked with DMF and Essentia, but there are still a lot of details to work out.”