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University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

A new life for Eddy

March 12, 2012

Eddy Hall.

Eddy Hall, the oldest building on the University's Twin cities campus, is in need of an overhaul.


The U seeks funds to refurbish historic Eddy Hall

By Deane Morrison

Topped by a tower and ornamental weathervane, red, castle-like Eddy Hall dominates the bustling intersection of Pillsbury Drive and Pleasant Street.

Perhaps it's a fitting name for a building that watches over traffic swirling around the grassy circle that divides Pleasant.

Swirling currents have flowed through Eddy's interior, too. The oldest building on campus, it began life in 1886 as Mechanic Arts and has more recently housed units such as University Counseling and Consulting Services and the departments of Spanish and Portuguese and Curriculum and Instruction.

Now Eddy is showing its age, and the University has asked the 2012 Legislature for funds to rehabilitate it.

"It is structurally unsound, with unusably small spaces and at least one floor that was closed by the building codes office," says Brian Swanson, assistant vice president for financing/accounting in University Services. "It has inefficient electrical, mechanical, and data systems, and its fire/life/safety systems are inadequate. It's functionally obsolete in its current form."

Eddy is currently unoccupied. But if refurbished, about 206 people, in the area of international and transfer admissions, would move from Williamson Hall into it, says Dean Carlson, coordinator for the office of Capital Planning and Project Management.

Building for the next 100 years

The University has hired RSP Architects of Minneapolis for a pre-design study, which includes historical preservation.

"Most of its history is the exterior building and site," says Swanson.

Eddy's exterior would be protected, which could include brick tuckpointing, new windows, and possibly roof work, Swanson says. The inside will be gutted and rebuilt to create about 20,000 square feet of office and student services space.

Reconfigured work spaces, General Mills.

Reconfigured work spaces in a General Mills pilot program. Left to right: quiet zone, personal lockers, and community space.

As part of the U's space optimization project, the space would be designed so people can choose whether to work in one spot or move between private interview rooms, community spaces, quiet rooms, and team collaboration rooms, as their tasks require. Similar plans are being adopted in the private sector by companies like General Mills and Best Buy.

"This uses less space, so it's less expensive," says Swanson. "Buildings are the number one contributor to our carbon footprint. Getting more use out of buildings really helps our sustainability efforts.

"We want to completely rebuild it for the next 100 years."

The University is also seeking legislative help to upgrade the Donhowe Building and the West Bank Office Building (WBOB), in a plan that would close Fraser and Williamson halls. People in Academic Support Resources, now in both Williamson and Fraser, would move to Donhowe.

Williamson, an underground building, has been especially unsatisfactory, not just for its lack of natural light but also for its high operating cost. That figure stood at $519,886 in FY11, says Carlson. Even more expensive is the rehab all buildings go through every 10 years.

"We would demolish Williamson and decommission Fraser until a new use presents itself," says Swanson. That would mean a net loss of one building to operate.

The University is requesting $14 million from the Legislature, to which the U would add $7 million, to carry out these projects.




Related Links

The University's 2012 Capital Request

Capital Request for Eddy Hall and space optimization

Support Eddy Hall and space optimization project