Montana State Jabs Hall Construction

Mike Greener/Chronicle

Construction cranes lift supplies to the upper floors of the new Montana State University School of Business Jabs Hall building on campus Tuesday afternoon.

Montana State University has roughly $70 million in construction projects in the works, from the new College of Business building that's under construction to a new 400-bed residence hall that will break ground in a few months.

That total doesn't even include the new College of Engineering, known as the Norm Asbjornson Innovation Center, now in the planning stages. It's expected to cost at least $50 million, to be paid for by the largest donation in MSU history.

“It's a very busy summer,” said Walt Banziger, MSU's director of facilities, planning, design and construction.

The $18.5 million Jabs Hall for the College of Business & Entrepreneurship, the biggest project now under construction, is on schedule and about 45 to 50 percent complete, Banziger said.

Construction should be finished by late fall, so that the college can start moving into Jabs Hall next spring semester. An official dedication is planned for May 2015. Despite scratching solar panels from the original plans, it's still on track for gold LEED certification for environmentally sensitive design, Banziger said. The construction cost is entirely covered by a $25 million donation from MSU alumnus Jake Jabs.

Anderson Construction is the general contractor. Hennebery Eddy Architects of Portland, Ore., and Comma-Q of Bozeman are in charge of building design.

The next big building in the pipeline is a $35 million, 400-bed dormitory for freshmen students, currently in design, to help house MSU's growing number of students. The plan is to break ground later this summer in an area north of the Outdoor Recreation Center and west of the Roskie Hall.

Architects' designs envision the new residence hall as a four-story building with an unusual Y-shape. The layout is intended to offer the best views and make the best use of sunlight to brighten and warm the building in winter.

“The shape is unique,” Banziger said, but the exterior finishes should fit in with other campus buildings. Schlenker & McKittrick Architects of Helena is in charge of the design and Andy Allen is MSU's project manager.

The cost is to be paid by MSU's auxiliaries services, which runs dorms, dining halls and similar campus enterprises. The new dorm is expected to open in 2016. North 15th Avenue may be extended from Lincoln Street to Garfield to serve the new dorm.

Bob Lashaway, associate vice president for university services, presented an overview and cost estimates for the projects at this month's University Council meeting.

Here are the bigger building projects at MSU:

  • Fieldhouse: $3 million is being spent to upgrade the arena, replacing a worn-out running floor, expanding and upgrading the seating area, putting in a new sound system and installing a new dividing curtain to create a more intimate space for some events.
  • Miller Dining Hall: A $6 million upgrade will create more accessible entrances and contemporary food serving areas to replace the old cafeteria-style experience for students.
  • Strand Union Building ballrooms: A $2.9 million remodel will give the heavily used spaces new finishes and upgrade lighting, heating and ventilation. Another $300,000 will be spent on storage space and $200,000 to install a gas-fired pizza oven in the Bobcat Pizza Parlor.
  • Classroom projects: $1.5 million will be spent to update Cheever Hall 215, Linfield Hall 231, Visual Communications room 168 and Lewis 307 and 407 labs.
  • Haynes Hall: Phase two of a $3.8 million project is bringing MSU's creative arts buildings up to modern earthquake safety codes, being paid for by a federal FEMA grant and state dollars.
  • Museum of the Rockies: A $1.2 million new storage building for collections is in design, to be built on the southwest side of the museum. It's also getting a $190,000 lighting retrofit.
  • Renne Library: $600,000 will replace its roof.
  • Wilson Hall: $225,000 will be spent to repair bridge structures that have water damage.
  • North Hedges dorm: $308,000 will renovate the elevator.
  • Bird control: $140,000 will be spent at Gaines Hall and the Animal Bioscience Building for “pigeon deterrents.”
  • Parking lots: $175,000 will be spent on annual maintenance this summer.

MSU's No. 1 building priority for the 2015 Legislature is requesting $28 million in state money to renovate Romney Hall. To be ready if Romney wins approval, MSU plans to start designing replacement space for ROTC storage and the College of Health, Education and Human Development's human performance lab, now in Romney.

Gail Schontzler can be reached at or 582-2633.

Gail Schontzler covers schools and Montana State University for the Chronicle.

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