Summer construction heralds major campus improvements at UND

As UND ramps up for the decades to come, construction in and around campus may hit record levels this summer

This map from UND Facilities shows the location of some of the major construction projects that will be impacting the UND campus this summer.

A campus transformed.

That’s what students, faculty and staff will see when they return to campus next fall.

Along with the new Memorial Union and renovated Chester Fritz Library, the construction and renovations will improve student learning and living, make campus easier to navigate, and improve roads and parking.

“The new construction will help UND continue to thrive and grow as a campus and community,” said UND President Andy Armacost. “If we learned anything during the pandemic, it is the importance of that sense of togetherness. There is no substitute for the sense of community that makes our campus special, and the physical parts of our campus make that magic happen. All this new construction is thanks to the generosity of our students, the state, public-private-partnerships, and the City of Grand Forks.”

Cara Halgren, vice president for student affairs and diversity, agreed. “The recent changes to the campus highlight its natural beauty,” Halgren said. “When I talk with people about what is happening on campus, I see their eyes light up. They are excited about what they see when they drive down University Avenue and see the changes in their alma mater as a source of pride.”

When Vice President for Finance and Operations Jed Shivers looks across campus, he sees the changes through a few lenses. “The first is our requirement to be good stewards of state resources,” Shivers said.

“In so many of these cases, the University is providing the majority of the funding to supplement generous state support, whether it is related to extraordinary repairs or the marvelous Nistler College of Business and Public Administration effort. Our philanthropic community and the work of the UNDAAF deserves much thanks and praise for enabling us to be in this position.

“The next lens is completing these projects on time and on budget so that our students, faculty, and staff benefit from them as quickly as possible. We’ve had success in those endeavors thanks to the efforts of UND Facilities and our construction partners and their employees.

“Last but not least, part of the joy of being a part of a dynamic campus which is adapting to the changing needs of higher education while preserving its fundamental purpose to create a community of scholars, is to see these projects grow from concepts to reality. Thanks to our campus community for its patience as we continue to pursue these key improvements.”

Artist’s rendering of UND Memorial Village courtesy of ICON Architectural Group.

A busy summer

The construction, along with road projects by the City of Grand Forks, will result in one of the busiest summers ever, say UND construction managers.

“This summer will be a big push for us,” said Mike Pieper, associate vice president for facilities. “When we started the University Avenue project in 2019, we knew we would have three busy summers. An early spring start and a less-populated campus will allow us to be ready for fall classes.”

Throughout the 2021 construction season, UND Facilities will be overseeing the completion of the Memorial Union project, construction of a new parking lot in the former Steam Plant site, replacement of 10 roofs across campus, replacement of windows in O’Kelly, Ireland, and Gillette Hall, the continuing progress of the Nistler College of Business, and many other projects across campus, said Brian Larson, director of construction management. “We encourage all students, faculty, and staff to subscribe to the UND Campus Renewal and Construction blog as well as follow the University Letter and UND social media accounts to stay up to date with road closures, parking lot closures, and other construction related impacts related to UND and City of Grand Forks projects,” Larson said

“UND Facilities appreciates the patience and understanding of our University community as we continue to invest in the future of our physical campus.”

Even though there will be lots of construction, the campus will remain open. Most summer classes will be offered online or a hybrid of online and in-person, which will reduce campus density. Some summer events – such as orientation, prospective student visits, and some summer campus – may be offered in person.

Renovations to the Chester Fritz Library are nearly complete, and the building is ready to welcome students and the University community with a new layout, new flooring and furniture, and new technology.

“We’ve been very fortunate to have some wonderful campus partners move into the Library, where students and faculty can do many things under one roof,” said Stephanie Walker, dean of libraries and information resources. “In addition to University IT, the Writing Center is now on the third floor, as is a terrific Artificial Intelligence/Virtual Reality/Big Data Lab overseen by High Performance Computing and the Office of Research & Economic Development. The skywalk to the Nistler College of Business & Public Administration is being built now. We invite everyone to visit!”

The new Memorial Union (shown above in an artist’s rendering) is nearing completion, and staff are expected to begin moving in by July. It should be open to the University community and public in August.

“While it is still an active construction site, every time I take a tour of the Memorial Union project, I get more and more excited!” said Cassie Gerhardt, associate vice president for student affairs & diversity and associate dean of students. “The Memorial Union is going to be amazing, especially with all of the ‘UND-specific touches’ that are part of the project. It is going to provide a wonderful space for the entire campus community to gather or to grab a meal or a cup of coffee.”

A plethora of projects

Construction of the new Nistler College of Business & Public Administration is expected to be complete in the summer of 2022. Image courtesy of JLG Architects/Nistler CoBPA.

Following is a short synopsis of upcoming projects.

  • Construction continues on the Nistler College of Business & Public Administration, which is set to open the summer of 2022.
  • Demolition of the Memorial Stadium is nearly complete, and then construction will begin on the Memorial Stadium Village, a public-private partnership that will feature Athletics office space on the first floor, and housing units on the upper floors. It is expected to open in summer 2022.
  • An additional public-private partnership, if approved, will extensively remodel Brannon, Selke and Noren Halls, while McVey and West Halls will be demolished and new buildings will stand in their place.
  • Smaller projects are also set to be completed over the summer, including roof and window replacements for O’Kelly Hall, Ireland Hall, Gillette, and likely the UND Armory. The second floor of O’Kelly Hall will also be renovated.
  • Skywalks will soon connect the Chester Fritz Library, Nistler College, and Merrifield Hall.
  • Campus Road will close in April for construction of a new parking lot on the site of the former Steam Plant, and the parking lot between Twamley Hall and the UND Armory will be renovated.
  • Grand Forks City projects include work on Columbia Road and the overpass, which will result in closure of the University Avenue and Columbia Road intersection twice over the summer for about three weeks each time. Traffic will be detoured, and 2nd Avenue North between Hyslop Sports Center and Swanson will be closed for the summer. Access to the engineering complex, Biology and other buildings, as well as parking lots, will be via EERC and beneath the Columbia Road overpass.
  • Cornell Street and Campus Road will be closed most of the summer to allow the City to complete the reconstruction of Columbia Avenue. Other construction will include site work on the new Memorial Union and an asphalt overlay of Cornell.

“With continued support from our donors, students, the City of Grand Forks, campus leadership and the State of North Dakota, we have been able to make some significant changes,” Pieper said. “I appreciate everyone’s cooperation and hope that we have improved their on-campus experience.”

To stay up-to-date on construction, subscribe to the UND Campus Renewal & Campus Updates Blog.