Dorm renovations could begin as soon as May on south side of campus

Construction of a new southside residence hall and renovations of Bergsaker could start as soon as May, according to President Stephanie Herseth Sandlin.

Andrea Smith, director of facility services, referred to the most upcoming construction as phase one of all the new construction set to start over the next five to eight years.

“The plan is to create a south residential quad with Bergsaker, Solberg and the new south residence hall,” said Smith.

The renovation of Bergsaker Hall and construction of the south hall will start this spring and continue throughout the 2021-2022 academic year. Smith hopes the renovations of Bergsaker will be complete and ready for students for the 2022-2023 academic year. The south hall is expected to be completed by 2024.

An emphasis is being placed on accessibility and modernization with Bergsaker’s renovations. The building’s rec room will be converted to new dorm rooms, while the lobby will be converted into a community space.

The day rooms on each floor of Bergsaker Hall will be expanded and turned into community study spaces, while the balconies will be replaced with glass walls. Finally, workers will install a new elevator and air conditioning system.

Smith said the Bergsaker bathrooms will also receive upgrades, primarily to provide students with more privacy. Doors and walls will be added to showers to make them more like “shower rooms.” Smith hopes these renovations will extend to all residence hall bathrooms as the construction process continues in the future.

The Bergsaker rooms will remain the same size, and the total number of beds in the residence hall will remain the same. The rooms will be receiving new furniture, though Smith said the specific types of furniture have not been finalized yet because Smith would still like more student input.

Smith is hoping to get student feedback on new furniture for the halls. She hopes to bring some furniture options to campus to be voted on during the upcoming fall semester. She encourages students to be on the lookout for any updates or opportunities to vote on furniture options.

“I’m so excited about it. It would really help us to get more students involved,” Smith said.

A drawing of the proposed changes to the exterior of Bergsaker Hall. Photo provided by Andrea Smith.

While Bergsaker undergoes renovations, freshmen will be able to live in Solberg, Tuve, Granskou or Stavig. Augustana plans to take in the same number of freshmen as they would any other year.

“That will put some pressure on existing housing options. We can accommodate all the first years that we’re projecting and the sophomores, but it may limit options for juniors and seniors,” Herseth Sandlin said.

The new south residence hall will have suite style dorm rooms, meaning each “suite” will have two bedrooms and share one bathroom. The bedrooms will each have independent access to the hallway.

These rooms will cost more than other on-campus options because of the increased privacy that comes with the shared bathrooms. The exact price point is yet to be determined, Smith said.

The south dorm will also have more community spaces and add an additional 200 beds to Augustana’s current housing capacity.

Smith said both the Bergsaker renovations and the new south hall will be built with the environment in mind. Efforts toward sustainability include having an economized air flow system that can share hot and cold air throughout different parts of the buildings depending on which is hotter or colder to maximize energy efficiency.

Phase one of building also included infrastructure improvements to campus such as replacing the boiler fan in the steam plant and improving the electrical distribution on campus.

Phase two of construction will likely include improvements to the campus green. Dean of Students Mark Blackburn hopes to drain the campus green to provide students with an open outdoor space rather than a swamp. A retention pond is set to be dug between Bergsaker and the Froiland to help keep the green dry in the future.

There are other plans to expand campus facilities to accommodate a growing student body, although the timeline for renovation and new construction is still unclear. There are plans to renovate and enlarge dining facilities, expand the Morrison Commons, increase parking availability and build a new student union.

After Bergsaker Hall has been renovated and the south hall has been constructed, Smith said a north residence hall will be built between Stavig and Tuve. Solberg Hall will be renovated during phase two, while Tuve, Stavig and Granskou Halls will be renovated last.

“Ideally we would like to do something similar [to the construction of the south hall] on the north side of campus too, but we have to work on the timing of the bond issuances […] over the next six weeks to determine if we can start new construction on the north side of campus within the same two to three year project timeline,” said Herseth Sandlin.

Old Main had a task force assigned to determine potential purposes for the building, but no decision has been made.

As the university continues to expand, administrators are planning for greater involvement with the Sioux Falls Seminary and the building that it is housed in, Smith said.

“We have a great partnership today, and we’re going to continue to pursue a stronger partnership,” Smith said. “Though we can’t talk about it right now, we do have plans to have more services with seminary.”

The construction and renovation projects will be paid for with a P3, or public-private partnership loan. There hasn’t been any interest from donors in funding the construction or renovation of the residence halls. These projects will depend on Augustana hitting projected enrollment numbers in years to come.

According to Shannan Nelson, chief financial officer and executive vice president, risks to the construction’s funding will be mediated by debt services and reserve funds.

“There should be no potential risk. […] this strategy is ideal,” said Blackburn.

Nelson said the renovation of Bergsaker and the construction of the new south hall will each cost around $9 million. Improving the campus green and on-campus infrastructure should cost anywhere from $6 million to $7 million.

In total, construction costs planned on campus will likely cost around $75 million, according to Nelson.