Montana State University

MSU unveils new look for new year

August 25, 2011 -- By MSU News Service

Rooms in two MSU residence halls, Langford and Hapner, received a major facelift this summer, including contemporary cabinetry. The renovation was one of more than two dozen that took place at MSU this summer, including remodeling of the university's largest dining hall and an innovative updating of MSU's Renne Library. MSU photo by Kelly Gorham.   High-Res Available

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MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571
There has been a lot cooking at Montana State University's Miller Dining Hall this summer, and it wasn't just food.

The entire atmosphere of the university's largest dining service was updated and brightened during a renovation that was completed over the summer. Everything from seating configurations, to new food selections and dynamic graphics were modernized during the $261,000 makeover.

"We think students will like what they see," said Todd Jutila, director of University Food Service, of the update to the cafeteria that serves about 3,500 meals per day."The last time the dining hall was totally redone was 25-35 years ago, so it was due for a facelift. And, this feels very contemporary."

The updating of Miller Dining Complex was one of the most visible of about two dozen renovations that took place at MSU over the summer, making it one of the busiest summer renovation periods the campus has undergone in recent history, according to MSU officials.

Some of the other major projects included updating of rooms in Langford and Hapner residence halls, a stunning transformation of the first floor of MSU's Renne Library designed to encourage group study. Those projects are in addition to a $15 million renovation that will be completed next year to Cooley Laboratory. A grant from the National Institute for Health funded the upgrade to the building that has long housed MSU's cutting-edge biomedical research.

And, finishing touches are also being put onto a $10 million upgrade to Bobcat Stadium, which is expected to be completed in time for the Bobcats' first home game on Sept. 10.

"This was such a busy summer due to the fantastic support given to the stadium project by the Bobcat Booster community, MSU's strong proposal to garner NIH funding for the Cooley renovation project, the residual effects of the stimulus funding provided through congress and the Montana Legislature and the need to update many of our Auxiliaries venues," said Robert Lashaway, associate vice president of university services. "The campus also benefited from the construction of the new roundabout at college and 11th, which was funded by the City of Bozeman."

Highlights of some of the MSU's major summer renovation projects include:

Langford and Hapner remodeling

The rooms in MSU's Langford and Hapner halls have been a favorite of students for decades. Located on the northeast edge of campus away from the larger high-rise residence halls, Langford and Hapner house single genders rather than a co-ed environment. Although these two residence halls are popular, Tammie Brown, MSU director of housing, has received feedback from both students and parents that the buildings needed an update.

"I have had parents of the incoming students comment how the rooms were identical to their experience - 20 years ago," Brown said. "When we began hearing grandparents make the same comments, it was apparent that the university needed to take immediate action to upgrade the facilities."

The renovations became a priority after MSU President Waded Cruzado and Provost Martha Potvin came to MSU. Brown set a budget of $2.8 million for both residence halls (new furniture was $1.2 million, and labor and construction were $1.6 million). The improvements were funded by auxiliary service earnings that have accumulated in recent record enrollment years, and not with tax dollars.

Residents had many ideas that could be summarized as wanting something modern and flexible. Brown said the university took the feedback and met with suppliers and came up with a design and furniture geared to the needs of the contemporary student. Crews from BN Builders, based in Florence, Mont., and Seattle, started on the project the day after students moved out in May and have replaced furniture, ceilings, carpeting and repainted for a new look.

"Maybe the biggest thing that students will notice when they arrive is that all the furniture is modular," said Tom Stump, MSU director of auxiliary services. Every piece of furniture, including desks, bureaus, and beds, which have 11 height settings, can be reconfigured into countless arrangements. Gone are the days that students have to gerrymander loft beds, he said.

Next summer the university will update the lobbies and entries of the residence halls as phase two of the facelift, Stump said.

Brown and Stump are certain that when the 740 residents of Hapner and Langford arrive on campus this year, they will like what they see.

"We think this will help with both recruitment and retention," Stump said.

Miller Dining Hall
It had been about 30 years since Miller Dining Hall, MSU's largest service operation, had a large-scale renovation done to its seating area.

"We definitely were overdue for a facelift," Jutila said of the operation that serves 3,000 to 3,300 meals per day.

Jutila and Mike Kosevich, dining hall general manager, strove to create an entirely new atmosphere for one of the university's most-used buildings. They divided the large cafeteria into pie-shaped regions, "Sort of like a Trivial Pursuit game board," Jutila said. That helped them, and the designer they worked with, define both areas and needs for students. They literally "found" an underutilized area in the back that provides room for a coffee bar and secluded eating area. The old long laminate tables were replaced with high-topped tables and booths where students can study while they eat, or just watch a Montana sunset. They also brought in another set of new furniture -- chairs with a bobcat head laser-cut into the back -- and stylish smaller tables that can be easily rearranged into small to large configurations. In all, the renovation cost $176,000 for new furniture and $85,000 for construction, for a total cost of $261,000. The renovation was funded by food service revenues.

The reconfiguration not only gives Miller more flexibility for both small and large groups, it also added about 50 more chairs, Jutila said.

Perhaps the pièce de résistance of the facelift is dynamic wall art produced by SCS Wraps, a local company made up of MSU graduates, featuring larger-than-life action sports photos such as snowboarding and skiing.

Kosevich said the renovation did not stop at the furniture. The cafeteria also updated its menu. Miller cooks will introduce more than 100 new recipes that will appeal to the contemporary student. (For Miller's recipe for sirloin portabella stew, see The new menu items were developed both by utilizing the student suggestion box and by following new trends in university dining.

"Students have requested choices that are more healthy. Also, today's students want items that have a bit more variety and spice to them," Kosevich said. "They (students) will be seeing a lot of changes."

Renne Library
Evolving student needs also directed the renovation of the first floor of MSU's Renne Library, where flexibility is the keyword.

Tamara Miller, dean of the MSU Libraries, said the $600,000 renovation completed at the end of summer transformed the first floor, which had been traditionally a reference area and shelving area, into a flexible learning space that is now called the Library Commons.

"Not only is it ok to move the furniture and speak to fellow students, we encourage it," Miller said.

Miller said new patterns of group learning drove the plans for the renovation, which was paid for by a private donor as well as library revenues from things such as late book fees.

Miller said she has been watching student use of the library for years and noticed that group study rooms were popular and students were increasingly grouping together to study and work on projects. She solicited student input about their library needs through flipcharts and suggestion boxes while she researched evolution at other university libraries.

To make room for the student-requested changes at Renne, Miller moved the large stacks of older printed books, which remain necessary but are used less frequently, to the basement. They are housed using an innovative electronic shelving system and may still be accessed by students and faculty.

The reference desk remains, but has been moved to the central area of the library, up on a mezzanine level, and updated. The reference area is backed by a series of study rooms that can flex from large to small. Table units are small, but can be fit together like puzzle pieces to make large tables that can accommodate any number of students. All of the easy chairs on the first floor are on wheels and may be moved freely. The popular Brewed Awakening Coffee Bar remains and the Renne Writing Center has been moved to a room on the first floor. There is also an area that houses a browsing area for new books and videos popular with MSU's film students.

The library computer bank has also been moved and reconfigured to allow larger groups of students to access computers. Other new technology includes the iRover unit that includes a whiteboard and projector. It can make a group of chairs into an instant classroom.

Miller said the library also installed extra outlets during the renovations and will be installing the instant charging areas seen at many airports. "Students were always waiting for the few outlets to recharge computers or phones," she said.

In all, Miller said the library was able to reconfigure the entire first floor, which was designed by MacArthur, Means and Wells of Missoula. Construction was by Dick Anderson Construction.

The total effect is like a large, contemporary bookstore. Yet, students who still wish for a quiet place to study and a more traditional library atmosphere will find that on the third and fourth floors.

"We'll have something for everyone," Miller said.

The renovations to Langford and Hapner residence halls, the Miller Dining Hall and the Renne Library Commons were part of nearly 30 remodeling projects at MSU this summer. Other projects include:

  • AJM Johnson - renovate two ecology labs - $145,000
  • Classroom renovations in Wilson, AJM Johnson and Roberts - $369,000
  • AJM Johnson - ITC Data Server Room renovation - $1 million
  • Stadium - End zone construction - $10 million - (adds 5,200 seats to Bobcat Stadium)
  • Cheever - Architecture studio renovation - $24,000 -convert old library space to architecture studio
  • Cobleigh energy improvements - $1.4 million
  • Cooley Lab renovation - $16.5 million- (Complete renovation with NIH Grants funds, underway)
  • Campus roof replacements - various buildings - ~$7.5 million (continuing replacements from 2010 hail storm)
  • Parking lot maintenance, various lots - $325,000 (asphalt repairs and seal coating)
  • Exterior lighting upgrade - $250,000 (convert hi-pressure sodium lighting to new low-energy LED)
  • Campus natural gas line replacement $100,000
  • Replace deteriorated gas lines serving campus buildings
  • Primary electrical metering - $50,000
    (Install electrical meters to efficiently track electrical usage)
  • Utility meter installations - $420,000
    (Install steam, condensate and water meters to efficiently track utility usage
  • Irrigation reservoir - expansion and maintenance work - $570,000

  • (Provides low cost surface irrigation water vs using expensive city treated water)
  • Family and graduate housing - carpet replacements - $130,000
  • Residence halls carpet replacement - $120,000
  • Campus academic buildings carpet replacements - $100,000
  • Campus sidewalk concrete repairs - $100,000
  • Hapner/Langford - Renovations and new furnishings - $1.8 million
  • Herrick Hall - Food Lab renovation - $350,000
  • Leon Johnson - Sixth floor renovation - $2.4 million (NSF funded lab renovations)
  • Linfield South restroom renovations - $225,000 (modernization and ADA upgrades)
  • Renne Library Commons renovation - $650,000
  • Painting of residence halls and family and graduate housing units - $225,000
  • Hamilton Hall - install elevator for ADA access - $375,000
  • Gaines Hall - service drive (final phase of $32 million building renovation)
  • SUB Solar Array - $40,000 (funded by ASMSU - demonstration of sustainable energy resource)

Robert Lashaway (406) 994-2001,