Campus improvement projects to come

St. Olaf is renovating Steensland Hall and lab space in Regents, and adding climate controlled storage to the library over the next several years as part of its six-year development plan.

The plan also includes four projects completed over the summer, like renovations to Rand Hall and Skoglund Gymnasium.

The College capital budget sits at $9 million for fiscal year 2019-20, of which $5.5 million goes towards ongoing capital projects. The budget will increase to $9.5 million in 2020-21, with $6 million for continued projects, as outlined in a capital budget report obtained by the Messenger.

“The capital budget is kind of the big, one-time projects that we need to spend money on,” said Vice President for Budget and Auxiliary Operations Angela Mathews. “We fund our capital budget with our depreciation. So it’s the cash we have left over at the end of the day, we put towards our capital budget.”

The depreciated funds stem from larger projects that necessitate setting aside funds for yearly upkeep and natural deterioration. St. Olaf reinvests these funds into ongoing capital projects, a process that is unique from that of other institutions.
“A lot of schools don’t do that – they just appreciate and they don’t put that money back into their buildings,” Mathews said. “So I think our facilities are in a much better place because we reinvest.”

The Regents project is one example of this reinvestment. The project began its two-year process this year, with $85,000 of the $385,000 total budget used in 2019-20. It will modify vacant space to relocate one psychology lab, while renovating lab space to provide a “multi-disciplinary wet lab space for biology, psychology, and neuroscience,” according to the project summary.

Of the three ongoing capital ventures, the Regents project is the only one that will break ground this year. Both the renovations to Steensland and new library collections area are set to begin next year.

Currently, the College cannot ensure the safekeeping of its rare books and archives due to an outdated air handling system. This has necessitated the replacement of the current system, alongside the renovation of 12,000 square feet of existing library space for a “climate-controlled vault and support space for the College’s rare book collections,” according to the project summary. $4 million has been set aside for this project, split evenly between the two years the project will take to complete.

Different than the Regents and Rolvaag renovations, which are both two-year projects, the Steensland renovation is set to be completed entirely next year.

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