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University of Minnesota’s Pioneer Hall to receive $104.5 million renovation/addition

The original building was no longer functional for modern day purposes.

April 19, 2018 |
Rendering of the updated Pioneer Hall

Courtesy KWK Architects

Originally built in stages between 1928 and 1932, the University of Minnesota’s Pioneer Hall became an outdated facility that did not meet building codes, wasn’t handicap accessible, and was lacking in many comforts students wanted.

The facility had narrow corridors, no air conditioning, limited study space, and an underground dining area. After debating for years whether to renovate the building or completely knock it down and build a new one, the university decided on a $104.5 million renovation/addition project spearheaded by KWK Architects partnered with architecture/engineering firm-of-record TKDA.

The project retains the character-defining features of the original building while expanding the building footprint to improve housing and dining programs. The new housing component increases the number of beds to 756 and incorporate study and community spaces to enhance the experience of first-year students.


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The new dining space will be moved from its underground location and brought up to grade level. Seating capacity, meal, serving, and seating options will all be expanded. The new facility will be able to accommodate 850 students at any time.

The renovation also rectifies one of the biggest shortcomings of the original building by providing for full ADA accessibility. New meditation rooms and lounges will also be created.

Once completed, Pioneer Hall will comprise 257,000 sf, which includes 85,600 sf of renovated space and 171,400 sf of new construction. The renovated Pioneer Hall is slated to be open in time for fall semester 2019.

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