Project scope: Complete renovation of Carnegie Hall
Current stage: Interior installation of walls and electrical/mechanical fixtures
Total estimated cost: $7.2 million
Estimated completion date: Fall 2024
After a century’s worth of alterations, additions and repurposing, now including a multi-phased overhaul of the entire building, Carnegie Hall would still be recognizable to the students, staff and faculty of the early 20th century.
In other words, if UND librarians from 1908 walked up to today’s Carnegie Hall, they’d be right to think it’s the same, exact building – down to the brick.
But after taking a step inside, they’d realize they’re now encountering something totally new in their time-traveling adventure on campus.
Built in 1908 for $30,000 as one of three Carnegie academic libraries in North Dakota, courtesy of philanthropist and steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, Carnegie Hall has since been a fixture of UND’s central quad – one that has far outlasted its original charge as UND’s first library.
Between the late 1920s and today, after the library outgrew the space, Carnegie has been home to a dining center; the Home Economics & Nutrition program; University IT; Admissions; General Counsel; and what is now known as the Office of Extended Learning.
In fact, its exterior and general layout in 2023 would be even more recognizable to the Class of 1908 than in years and decades past. Additions made to the building in the 1920s and 1950s were removed in early 2020. Since then, contractors have reconstructed its southern exterior to match its original dimensions and masonry.
“Those two additions didn’t have the same characteristics, build quality or architecture as the original Carnegie,” said Chris Wetch, project manager and assistant director of design for UND Facilities Management. “There was some deferred maintenance, too, and the space generally didn’t fit with the direction we’re taking.”
By fall 2024, Carnegie Hall will house the new offices for UND’s president and provost. Though it might appear as classic as ever to passersby, UND’s leaders will be moving into a space truly made new.
Full building refresh
Efficiency has been a key tenet of renovations and rebuilds across campus, and Carnegie Hall is no exception.
From Wetch’s perspective, what was once a masonry building with little in the way of insulation will now perform at a level comparable to its recently reworked neighbors.
“We still had steam radiators from the time it was built,” Wetch remarked, signifying the mechanical and structural upgrades being installed now and through the coming months.
At the time of writing, new walls segmenting the updated floorplan into offices and conference rooms are being framed. Concrete in the basement has been chiseled up to develop new plumbing lines and will be poured anew within the next few weeks.
“Insulating walls, exterior walls and mechanical systems will be all new – we’ll have fresh air coming in, along with natural light throughout the building,” Wetch added. “From the floors to the finishes, it’s a full building refresh.”
Some new, some familiar
But to preserve its history, much will be familiar. The layout, defined in part by the building’s construction, will be mostly intact. The newer interior walls and their arrangement pertain to the south side of the building, with each floor being somewhat mirrored. For instance, Carnegie’s main bearing wall, which houses multiple fireplaces, will remain (albeit the fireplaces will be retrofitted into gas fireplaces). The central skylight on the building’s roof has been replaced with a modern version, identical in size.
Visitors will still be greeted by the entryway’s marble terrazzo flooring, some of which will be repaired, as well as the fully wooden staircase leading to the second floor, where the Office of the Provost will be located. The first floor has been designated for the Office of the President. The basement will house a general-use conference room, as well as a break room and additional office space.
Historical photos show an entryway reception desk that served the original academic library, and Wetch hinted at plans to bring that back into the fold of modern-day Carnegie Hall.
“So, there are some historical aspects that will come back to this building that didn’t necessarily exist 10 years ago,” Wetch remarked.
Preserving a historic campus fixture
This years-long project has been grouped into two distinct phases, the first of which was resolved with the removal of the additions and rebuilding of the façade, as well as new windows, front steps and surrounding landscaping.
Phase two is split into A and B, according to Wetch. Part A involved ordering long-lead items such as doors, electrical components and mechanical units for heating, ventilation and air conditioning. Part B is the culmination of interior installation, including furniture, fixtures, flooring and paint. Wetch described the scheduling and timeline as ongoing, as some aspects are awaiting finalization and supply chain issues for construction remain prevalent. Again, next fall is the intended goal line for welcoming Carnegie Hall’s new, permanent tenants.
As for the prior offices of the president and provost in Twamley Hall, that space will be re-organized, though no final occupants have been decided, Wetch said.
“Toward the end of the spring semester, I hope we’ll have all of the walls painted and casework installed,” Wetch said. “Then, summer would be the time for final touches with flooring going in, along with furniture and glass walls. There is also a lot of woodwork, sidelights and trim.”
In terms of its look, when all is said and done, Wetch anticipates a mix of modern and historic that has been a hallmark of other renovations on campus, including the old President’s House that is now the Gershman Graduate Center.
“The fireplaces are going to be visually interesting and historic to the building, as well as the skylight,” he remarked. “The front steps on the north side have gone back to being sandstone, which was original to the building. I think the aspects that we’re trying to retain are going to do a lot for it.”