Montana State University

MSU’s Jabs Hall wins regional recognition as best higher education/research project

September 1, 2015 -- Anne Cantrell, MSU News Service

Jabs Hall is alive with activity as students attend the first week of classes. MSU photo by Kelly Gorham.Students study in a common area in the newly constructed Jabs Hall during the first week of class. MSU photo by Kelly Gorham.

Jabs Hall is alive with activity as students attend the first week of classes. MSU photo by Kelly Gorham.

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The new home of the Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship at Montana State University recently won regional recognition in a respected publication.

Jabs Hall at MSU took first place for the best project in the higher education/research category in the mountain states region of the ENR Regional Best Projects Awards. The award came from ENR, or Engineering News-Record, a prominent magazine focused on the construction industry. The awards are given to celebrate and honor the building teams that created the best projects nationwide in 2015.

The project won the award based on its performance in several categories, including teamwork and overcoming challenges, safety, innovation and contribution to industry, construction quality and design quality, according to Jake Van Dusen, project engineer with Dick Anderson Construction, who submitted information about the project to ENR.

“This is impressive recognition for Jabs Hall,” said Van Dusen. “The success of the project is rooted in the team of individuals, from managers to truck drivers to architects, who turned an idea of (the building’s donor) Mr. Jabs into a building that will provide new educational opportunities for years to come.”

A panel of eight judges from all areas of the industry – including architects, general contractors, consultants, academics and engineers – selected winners in each of 19 categories. The awards were split into two geographic areas: intermountain and Colorado/plains states. This is the 15th year for the project awards, which recognize projects in Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.

Members of the team that worked on Jabs Hall included Comma-Q Architecture and Hennebery Eddy Architects, project architects; Dick Anderson Construction, general contractor/contract manager; Morrison-Maierle, project engineer; and Kath Williams, LEED consultant.

Members of the project team did a wonderful job and deserve recognition for their work, said Kregg Aytes, dean of the Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship.

“Our MSU participants, Dick Anderson Construction, Morrison-Maierle, Hennebery Eddy, Comma-Q, Kath Williams and the others who worked on the project were all consummate professionals who were willing to collaboratively solve problems and help make good decisions,” Aytes said. “I would work with any and all of these people again. It was a very gratifying experience.”

Susan Dana, associate dean of the Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship, added that teamwork contributed to the project’s success.

"Our design and construction team was so successful in large part because we had a very clear shared vision that guided creative design and problem solving, and because this project was so personal to the team, many of whom are MSU alumni and supporters,” she said. “It was a labor of love, not just another project.”

Jabs Hall was funded by a $25 million private gift from Jabs, a Montana native and Montana State College alumnus, who announced the gift in 2011. The gift is also being used for new scholarships and new academic programs in entrepreneurship, professional skills development, and fostering cooperative work between business students and students in other disciplines.

The building, which has numerous spaces for both large and small groups of students to gather, was designed to encourage entrepreneurial thinking and multidisciplinary collaboration, according to Kregg Aytes, dean of the college.

"The building is designed to shape our behavior, and we know students and faculty will become more collaborative, more creative and more innovative because of it," Aytes said.

Jabs Hall will also help the university begin to address a much-needed backlog of classroom space, Aytes said, and it will benefit generations of students to come.

Aytes said that the building was designed to create an inviting and visually stimulating building that encourages collaboration and interaction, and that observing how the building is being used so far this semester indicates that those goals have been met.

“Students from all over campus are finding all the spaces in the building for working alone or with others,” Aytes said. “I see professors meeting with students in the various seating areas around the building. Students look forward to being in bright, flexible classrooms that allow professors to teach more effectively. It is amazing to see how much the physical space can contribute to creating an environment that encourages learning and innovation.”

Dana added that the result is “not just a building but a home that makes students, staff, faculty and the community proud to be part of MSU and the Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship." 

Jabs Hall will be profiled in the October issue of ENR Mountain States and honored at a special awards breakfast in Salt Lake City on Oct. 27.

Contact: Audrey Capp, (406) 994-7026 or audrey.capp@montana.edu