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Preserving Main Hall: the Project

UMW News Bureau

An ongoing multi-phase restoration project will strengthen the Main Hall complex both structurally and technologically to better serve the Montana Western campus and southwestern Montana for future generations. DSC_0057 bwAge has taken its toll on Montana Western’s Main Hall, but an ongoing multi-phase restoration project will strengthen the Main Hall complex both structurally and technologically to better serve the Montana Western campus and southwestern Montana for future generations. The current renovation and preservation project of the historic Main Hall complex is divided into two phases. In 2007, the Montana Legislature authorized $4.5 million for restoration of Main Hall. A portion of the monies was used for the programming and design development of the entire Main Hall complex renovation project. The remaining dollars will be used in actual construction. The process began with the hiring of Richard M. Shanahan Architects and Sievert & Sievert Historical Architecture, the firms responsible for the programming and design of the entire project. A campus committee also spent much of 2008 designing and developing specific needs for the building’s restoration. The committee also contracted out a set of reports that included a set of “as-built” blueprints, a historical survey and report, a site survey, a geo-technical investigation, an energy study, a seismic study, a structural seismic survey and a hazardous material report. The architects then took the reports and the ideas from the Main Hall committee and developed the blueprints for the design of Phases I and II. In planning, the design team’s goal was to recapture as many classrooms as possible. Their final design resulted in 23 classrooms and 58 offices. The Beier Auditorium and small auditorium will remain functional teaching spaces as well. The final design also showed an increase in conference and work rooms and an increase in restrooms and janitorial spaces. The renovated complex will serve Montana Western today very similarly to the original design intent. Phase I construction includes a critical fire safety upgrade, energy improvements, earthquake stabilization and hallway and lighting upgrades. Swank Construction of Valier, Mont. received the bid for the construction portion of Phase I, which began in June of 2009, and includes the following:
  • Move Experitas (Elderhostel) and the Division of Outreach to the first floor of the 1896 section.
  • Restore first and second floor corridors of the 1907 section.
  • Install central electrical distribution system for Main Hall complex and provide a single location disconnect for fire code and fire prevention.
  • Seismic stabilization of the 1896 structure and first and second floors of 1907 structure.
  • Safety compliance for first and second floor classrooms in 1896 and 1907 structures.
  • Replace and repair windows in the 1896 and 1907 structures to improve energy conservation.
  • Complete energy efficient mechanical system for the first and second floors of the 1907 structure and all of the 1896 building.
  • Consolidate the English department to the 1896 structure.
Phase II will be funded with a $6 million allocation from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, the federal stimulus package. It is slated to include infrastructure, energy and structural improvements including a connecting link from the main structure to the Beier Auditorium. The link will create new entrances to Main Hall while connecting three eras of the building. It will also provide two new lobbies, both at the first floor entrance and at the entrance of the Beier Auditorium. A new elevator and new bathrooms are also included in Phase II plans. Both Phases I and II include replacing all of the buildings windows with energy efficient windows. Phase II will complete the 1896 and 1907 renovations. Phase II is expected to be ready for bidding in the spring of 2010.

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