Montana State University

University community invited to open meetings to provide input on site for Norm Asbjornson Innovation Center

March 18, 2014 -- MSU News Service

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The University Facilities Planning Board at Montana State University will hold three open meetings in March and April to collect input on the site for the new Norm Asbjornson Innovation Center. The new building will expand the MSU College of Engineering complex and is being made possible by a recent $50 million gift from MSU alumnus and Montana native Norm Asbjornson.

The three meetings are set for Tuesday, March 25; Tuesday, April 8; and Tuesday, April 22. All three meetings will be held from 3:30-5:30 p.m. in the Procrastinator Theater in the SUB. All interested faculty, staff, students and community members are invited to attend the meetings to learn more about the site input process and to provide feedback.

Based on several factors, including a need for a site large enough to accommodate the building’s footprint and a need to locate the building in close proximity to other campus facilities that serve the College of Engineering, the university is focusing on a site south of the SUB for the new building, said Walt Banziger, director of MSU Facilities Planning, Design and Construction. He added that the open sessions will focus primarily on taking input regarding impacts and conditions related to that site.

At the April 22 University Facilities Planning Board meeting, the board is scheduled to craft its recommendations to MSU President Waded Cruzado, Banziger said.

Following the president’s approval, the university will proceed with architectural design and preconstruction planning for the building. However, the 2015 Montana Legislature will still need to approve construction.

In early March, MSU announced that Asbjornson had committed to give the university $50 million for its College of Engineering – the largest private gift in the history of the state. Asbjornson’s gift will fund the construction of an innovative laboratory and classroom facility that will enable collaborative, hands-on learning and leadership. The building, to be named the Norm Asbjornson Innovation Center, is envisioned to promote dynamic interdisciplinary engagement, meaningful student-faculty interaction, and accelerated innovation that responds to and anticipates emerging trends in education, industry and society. University officials hope to break ground no later than the spring of 2016.

Currently housed in Roberts Hall, Cobleigh Hall and portions of the Engineering and Physical Science Building (EPS), the College of Engineering has been the fastest growing college at MSU for the past two academic years and reached a historic, all-time high enrollment of 3,102 students in the fall of 2013 – up 12 percent from fall 2012. The college has had no significant addition of teaching or laboratory space since the completion of the EPS Building in 1997.

For more information on facilities projects at MSU, visit http://www.montana.edu/us/pdc/.

Contact: Walt Banziger, director, MSU Facilities Planning, Design and Construction, (406) 994-6326 or wbanziger@montana.edu

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