Memorial Hall Renovation
Project Type: Renovation
Client: Bemidji State University
LHB provided design services to convert one of Bemidji State University’s oldest and most recognizable buildings into a state-of-the art home for the university’s business and accounting programs. Previously located in a reconstituted dining hall adjacent to residence halls, these programs were in need of a space that reflects their program culture, centers them in the academic heart of campus, and provides opportunities for active learning.
To this end, LHB developed a design for the 44,500 sq ft Memorial Hall and its largely unused gymnasium that takes advantage of the building’s unique features, achieving a poetic harmony between the university’s past and its future. The path of the visitor through the building narrates this relationship.
The grandeur and symmetry of the preserved historic west façade and lobby transition to the adaptive reuse of the gymnasium, where innovative learning spaces are held within the two-story volume and the salvaged wood bleachers lining the walls tell the story of the building’s previous life.
Finally, the 1,200 sq ft addition of a contemporary, light-filled atrium projects from the building’s revamped east façade, thrusting the building into the heart of campus.
Programmatically, the seven smart classrooms and learning laboratories located on the main floor promote the use of mediated instructional technologies, flexible classroom sizes, group study problem-solving learning environments, and distance learning delivery systems. These active learning classrooms are supported by informal study spaces that provide a venue for individual or collaborative work.
This project is a keystone in the broader campus efforts to centralize academic functions and enhance the experience of pedestrians and cyclists.