UND Today

University of North Dakota’s Official News Source

Master Plan continues to guide development

With updates and additions, projects continue to flow from document created in 2016

The extensive renovation of the Chester Fritz Library was one project envisioned by the UND Master Plan. UND archival photo.

For Mike Pieper, associate vice president of facilities, planning the development and use of physical spaces on the UND campus never stops.

Among his responsibilities is bringing concepts found in UND’s master plan to fruition. As anyone who has walked across the campus in the past few years can attest, the University has been in a period of renewal, with highly visible construction projects across the breadth of campus.

Many of those projects stem from the UND master plan, a lengthy document created to guide campus development over the next 30 years. The most recent master plan was created in 2016, at the request of the State Board of Higher Education. Updates to that plan were added in 2018 and 2022.

Campus master plans are guided by strategic plans in the North Dakota University System. On Feb. 17, UND held a kick-off event to begin the formation of UND’s new strategic plan, so the University will need to delay the formulation of a new master plan until the strategic plan is completed.

But that doesn’t mean the work stops.

“What we’ve talked about and talk to leadership about is, we don’t want to stop,” Pieper said. “What I want to do is microplanning.”

Microplanning for Pieper means reaching out to colleges on campus to gauge their future needs for lab space, for example. Increases to research funding at UND impact how space will be used, and how that space needs to be adapted to account for the latest technology.

“We’ve had tremendous growth in research, so that research is creeping into the planning more and more,” he said.

In 2016, UND partnered with Sasaki, a planning and design firm, to complete the campus master plan. Microplanning gives UND a head start when the process gets underway again, and a design firm is brought back to the table.

Master plan goals achieved

Walking across campus, it is easy to see the results of portions of the 2016 master plan, which focused on space utilization, academic programming and deferred maintenance. Perhaps one of the most visible projects is the new Nistler College of Business and Public Administration building, which opened to students this fall. Already in use, the building is set to have a grand opening later this month.

Another project outlined in the 2016 plan is the UND Steam Plant. The facility was dedicated in October 2020, and resulted from a public-private partnership with Johnson Controls. The new plant generates “clean steam” by using natural gas. The previous century-old plant used coal.

Other projects include the complete renovation – new roof, windows and interior – of O’Kelly Hall, a dramatic remodel of the Chester Fritz Library and ongoing work to rebuild and revamp a trio of dormitories.

New projects

More projects abound in the most recent update to the campus master plan and include the revamping of Carnegie Hall to house the offices of UND’s President and Provost. An addition is planned to complete the Frederick “Fritz” D. Pollard Jr. Athletic Center, and ground was broken on the new Memorial Village on Aug. 25. A $50 million project to completely remodel Merrifield and Twamley halls is also underway.

Looming large in the 2022 master plan update are the ideas to build a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) building, and add a building that will encompass allied health programs under one roof.

According to the master plan, STEM building is intended to “consolidate the labs for biology, biomedical research, chemistry, and physics departments in one building. Space vacated by departments relocating from Starcher, Columbia, Abbott and Witmer halls could then be used to provide “backfill opportunities” for classroom and office use.

Different sites were analyzed for the proposed STEM building, including at the location where Columbia Hall is located, the site of Johnston, Smith and Fulton halls, as well as the location of the Hyslop Sports Center.

Three locations are also proposed for a building to encompass allied health academic degrees, which are currently located in several different areas on campus. According to the plan, the preferred location for the building is near the School of Medicine & Health Sciences. That location would allow for collaboration opportunities with the SMHS.