Renovations coming to Larson and Kittelsby

As students see the construction going on in Rolvaag Memorial Library this fall and read about the Holland Hall renovation plan, it is evident that there are going to be changes throughout the campus this year. As it turns out, the plans for change entail more than Holland and Rolvaag alone.

One of the goals of President David Anderson ’74’s Strategic Plan is to enhance students’ participation in and experience of residential life. In order to fulfill this goal, renovations have been made during the past summers on Kildahl, Ellingson and Hoyme residence halls. Kittelsby Hall will be renovated in the coming summer. In addition, plans for the renovation of Larson Hall are also being drawn up this year.

All of these projects are part of the process of renewing the college’s building life cycle, in which after a certain amount of time, usually about 40 years, the buildings on campus need to be renovated in order to increase sustainability and efficiency.

“I think it would make a lot of sense to focus our attention first on the first-year dorms, [as] most of them are nearing the end of the year of their life cycle now,” President Anderson said. In his view, the focus on the first-year students also stems from the rapid change in needs and expectations for the new students who are coming into a college environment for the first time.

There is also a desire to create additional gathering spaces to reinforce the sense of community that is part of St. Olaf’s vision and mission for the well-being of its students. Finally, the renovations will increase the efficiency of energy use, which in turn will lead to increased sustainability throughout the campus.

Plans for the renovations of Larson and Kittelsby began in August of this year, while the renovation of Kildahl was completed this past summer. In the first phase of the renovation, about $11.9 million will be spent on renovating Larson and Kittelsby. In comparison, about $9.25 million is going to be spent on the renovation of Holland Hall.

Another important aspect of the renovations is light harvesting, which is important to the college’s sustainability goals. There is a larger emphasis on creating spaces where sunlight can serve as the natural source of light.

“Light harvesting is one of our main design goals in the plans. It can contribute in decreasing the campus’ energy consumption. And that is another thing that people are looking for in these renovations: the improvement in the sustainability, where we use less energy to operate, which means we will generally consume fewer resources,” Assistant Vice-President for Facilities Peter Sandberg said.

Another thing that Anderson and Sandberg pointed out is that even with the many renovations and creation of new spaces, the total amount of energy use on the campus has been decreasing at a steady rate.

According to Sandberg, the whole campus has been consuming on average 17,250,000 kW hours worth of energy annually, a decrease from the annual consumption of about 18 to 19 million kW hours before the construction of Regents Hall of Natural Sciences, which is seen as the watershed of a more efficient energy consumption in the college’s history.

Eventually, the main purpose of the modernizations is to bring concrete changes through new, modern, and clean buildings. But these buildings have to be in character with the rest of the campus as well.

“We want to provide the proper facility that can better support the process of teaching and learning, and creating spaces that fall in line with what people are doing within them,” Sandberg said.

“Eventually, we hope that the designs of the new buildings can promote the purposes of the people who are in it, rather than working against their purposes. The design should be an advance and a complement to the system as a whole,” President Anderson said.

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