Project scope: Merrifield Hall renovation and Merrifield-Twamley skywalk installation
Current stage: Demolition/removal of old interior
Total estimated cost: $55 million
Estimated completion date: Aug. 2024
Since work began in January of this year, when asbestos abatement crews started combing through the nearly 100 year-old building, Merrifield Hall’s renovation process is now well underway.
By March, UND Facilities Management turned the building over to contractors for demolition of the building’s interior.
According to Senior Project Manager Matthew Fohr, crews have been working their way down from the top third floor to clear out the walls between classrooms and offices that previously created a spanning, central corridor on each floor.
The concrete support columns are essentially all that remain standing in Merrifield’s interior. Fohr noted how remarkable it has been to see sunlight splashing through a building that, due to its layout, was typically dark.
Floor plans for the new interior yield a familiar layout, but also do more to open the space in its upcoming aesthetic and functional upgrades, Fohr said.
Alongside the demolition, the building’s hydronic heating and cooling system has been drained for decommission, making way for new HVAC systems in future stages of the project.
New water main leads to discovery
Immediately outside its newly emptied halls, located at the heart of campus, a new water line for Merrifield was installed in June. The excavation involved in that work exposed the foundational bricks of UND’s very first building, Old Main.
Patrick C. Miller of UND Today wrote about this chance encounter with history in a story published July 11, which chronicles the life and ultimate demise of UND’s founding structure, as well as the efforts to preserve its history.
And, despite the demolition work happening this summer, preservation is a leading aspect of the Merrifield Hall renovation project.
“The Merrifield renovation project aspires to honor the architecture and rich history of the building while better configuring and equipping the space for the teaching, research and learning needs of today and tomorrow,” according to the Office of the Provost webpage detailing the project.
“Designed by noted architect Joseph Bell DeRemer, the building is a wonderful example of Collegiate Gothic architecture, characterized by its brick exterior, arched entrances lined with limestone, and multipaned windows.”
For more on the aspirations of this renewal and preservation work, be sure to read Writer/Editor Walter Criswell’s upcoming feature on Merrifield’s revamp at UND Today.
Standout east entrance, new windows and skywalk foundations on the way
One of the biggest changes being made to the building’s exterior is the central east entrance, flanked by the north and south arched stairway entrances. This aspect – set to give the building a modern touch of accessibility and standout visibility from the central quad – was detailed in a March UND Today story written by David Dodds.
Renderings show a three-story tall, glass paneled grand entrance that includes ADA-compliant ramps.
And exterior work is in the cards for the project’s post-summer stages. UND Facilities Management is working through the submittal process for window replacements, as well as other “long lead” items – construction materials and pieces that can end up taking longer to be manufactured and/or delivered.
For windows, Fohr predicts a wintertime installation.
The other major exterior piece for Merrifield is a new skywalk connection to Twamley Hall, which is just now getting the green light for extensive foundation work between the two buildings. Fohr expects that underground utility lines, including steam, will have to be rerouted to make way for what will be holding the skywalk above-ground.
The goal is to have skywalk foundations installed before the ground freezes this fall and early into winter.
Future Merrifield-Twamley connection
To note, Twamley renovations go hand-in-hand with Merrifield, as far as the project’s intent is concerned. Though the Twamley project likely won’t commence until work on Merrifield is finished, and funding is raised, planning and design for the building is ongoing.
Twamley has long served as a central administrative hub on campus, housing the Office of the President, Provost and Registrar, among others. Future blogs will detail where these offices will move as a result of Twamely’s own revamp.
Stay tuned to the Campus Renewal blog for future updates on this and other projects happening on UND’s campus.