by Stacey Kaslon

Almost seven months since Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton signed a bonding bill into law approving the replacement of Hagg-Sauer Hall at Bemidji State University, BSU will start construction renovations this month across campus in preparation for the new building.

The $825 million bill for the Minnesota State system public works set aside $22.5 million for the BSU project to build a more classroom-focused learning facility and to renovate areas in five other buildings on campus. The new building will be almost a fourth of the size of the current building with the intent of creating communities within related disciplines.

Justin Eichorn, Senator of District 5 and a leading legislator on the bonding bill, said in a press conference on May 31, “It was amazing to see the outpouring of support not only from the faculty and staff, but from the community here for this project, and I think that’s one thing that really helped us get this over the finish line this year and get Gov. Dayton’s signature.”

Replacing the almost fifty-year-old Hagg-Sauer will not only avoid expensive upkeep and maintenance costs, but it will also be more energy efficient with its LEED-certified design. The hall was designed with a great deal of natural light including an all-glass wall facing Lake Bemidji as well as landscaping that is native to Minnesota, not just for aesthetic purposes, but also to reduce water usage and improve drainage. This design will also offer an unobstructed view of Lake Bemidji from the center of campus.

Though the details will be finalized in the near future, the plans are going to include ten up-to-date classrooms on two floors with an array of courses and learning styles accommodated as well as class sizes between 40 and 132 students. The facility will also include an auditorium large enough to accommodate as many as 320 people. The new building will also accommodate those with disabilities better than before.

Renovations across campus are scheduled to begin sometime early this semester to accommodate the faculty offices currently within the building. Buildings to receive renovations include Bangsberg Fine Arts Complex, Bensen Hall, Sattgast Hall and the A.C.Clark Library–all with the idea of making resources and faculty more accessible to students.

Bangsberg Fine Arts Complex will renovate the music practice labs and band room, faculty and department offices, conference rooms, a study room, a music ensemble room, overall technology infrastructure and convert the Black Box Theater into a multi-purpose space.

Bensen Hall will redevelop the entire professional education faculty area, create a up-to-date space for relocated psychology and social work departments including offices, lab space, work room and student lounge and construct a new conference room and student work area.

Sattgast Hall will update faculty office suites, relocate the math library, mathematics/GIS computer lab, geography cartography and planning labs and upgrade the overall technology framework.

A.C. Clark Library is set to enrich the overall experience for students and faculty with more accessible and updated services, including moving the student support services to the main floor. Renovation plans also include improving the geography map library, classroom space, computer lab, the reference area as well as create a tutoring center for students.

BSU’s published plan for the building explained the goal behind the relocations. “These focused communities will create better environments for students to meet with faculty–and each other–outside of the classroom,” it says.

Faculty will move into their new offices this summer with the demolition and construction of Hagg-Sauer to shortly follow. The whole project is predicted to finish and re-open as early as fall of 2020.