Armstrong Hall to be demolished and reconstructed

Armstrong Hall, home to various general education classes for students at Minnesota State University, Mankato, is set to be demolished and rebuilt in the upcoming year. But instead of rebuilding at its current location, plans call for Armstrong to be relocated next to the Performing Arts Building, leaving its current site open for a new Centennial Plaza and green space. 

The building, built in 1964, comes with various maintenance issues that are costing the University more money than what it’s worth, including problems with the boiler and heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems. 

MNSU President Edward Inch said there are several reasons the building is being torn down.

“Part of it has to do with the exterior facing and the use of the stone in the front that’s not supported, it’s deteriorating,” he said. “There’s a part of the building that has sunken bed and had to be raised back up. The biggest issues, though, were the annual maintenance related to the boiler and the HVAC systems that are past their usability time. So, keeping it in any way would require us to invest quite a bit into the infrastructure of the building each year.”

Once the current building is torn down the space will be turned into a centennial plaza for students to enjoy through studying, lounging, or relaxing.

“The plan is that once the new building is built, the existing structure will be raised and that’s going to mean it will open the center of campus. The plan right now is to have green spaces in the center of campus and we will do a centennial plaza,” Inch commented.

As for the new and redesigned Armstrong Hall, it will be moved across campus to where the #MavFam sign currently sits.

Another key issue with the current building is its layout and design, which follows the linear learning aspect used when it was built almost 60 years ago. This concept has since been outdated and doesn’t benefit students in the classroom.

“In 1964 education was a linear process. You sit in the seat, you look at the professor, the professor lectures at you, and it’s very much kind of linear, but that’s no longer what happens,” he said. “What happens now is that students work in collaborative environments and work together.”

Armstrong Hall right now doesn’t fit the updated learning expectations, Inch said, causing issues for both students and professors. 

“The reason this is an issue with Armstrong is that it’s designed to be linear. That means our lecture halls still have seats bolted to floors and that the stage is the place you look for information as opposed to having a highly flexible and adaptable space that works to meet the needs of a particular class with a particular set of students.”

He also pointed out that some classrooms are already equipped with the items necessary to follow the modern learning system, but are still not meeting its fullest potential.

“Now, some of the classrooms we have are gutted and have flexible desks in them, but doing that limited the amount of space that was available to educate students.”

The project’s price tag is over $100 million, with other phases including the completion of the Health Sciences Center basement and the reconfiguration of the library.

One thought on “Armstrong Hall to be demolished and reconstructed

  • Michael Scullin (Professor Emeritus of Anthropology)

    I “lived” in Armstrong for a few years not long after it had been built. It was always on the brink of disaster. During an especially cold winter the offices along the exterior wall had to be abandoned until warmer weather arrived. The extruding stone around each window conducted the extraordinary cold in so that they were frosted in the building. I was able to escape to Trafton which is another contractor’s disaster. There were three roofs in the first ten years and totally inadequate ventilation in the chem labs where ventilation is a necessity. The “auditorium” is notorious for being cold bscause the thermometer was installed on the warm wall at the bottom. I could go on about the drainage which required several excavations to minimize water in the cellar. It was finally discovered that the drainage for the building was installed sloping up from the city drainage on the other side of the arboretum (which has never been given adequate attention). Ah yes, memories of architectural disasters. I can only hope that “low bid” is not the only factor being considered. Get a 10 year guarentee.


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