BOZEMAN — Montana State University officials are finally reaching the finish lines for not one - but two major construction projects, years after they started as its campus continues to grow.
It was snowing that night back in 2019 when MTN’s Cody Boyer first climbed the set of stairs at the MSU parking garage hours before the North Gym’s roof caved in under heavy snowfall, a day after the South Gym collapsed.
The parking garage overlooks both locations where the gyms once stood and has been used by many in the years following to take a look at first the damage, then the reconstruction. Those spots are still empty and the pop-up gyms next door still stand.
“We’re still working on the projects,” says Michael Becker, MSU spokesperson and director of the MSU Campus News Service. “There are a lot of things left to do.”
Come March 2022, it’ll be three years since historic snowfall put MSU’s gyms up in the headlines. “It’s been a tremendously long road to replace the facilities that we lost,” Becker says.
Flash forward to now.
“We are going to be able to take our medical and our counseling and psychological services and move them out of the Swingle Building where they have been for many decades,” Becker says, adding the groundbreaking on the Student Wellness Center occurred back in September.
The Student Wellness Center has undergone a multi-million dollar facelift, with a rebuild that is expected to go about $18 million over the original $60 million dollar, due to inflation in construction costs, including during the pandemic.
Other than the pop-up gyms next door, Becker says one other scar remains from the collapses.
“Currently, yes, the aquatic facility is closed but that is on the list of things that will get a refresh with the Student Wellness Center project with expanded features and additional space for therapeutic and recreational swim,” Becker says.
Also, while the patches and the scars still linger from at least one isolated case when someone tried to ‘pop’ the North Gym, progress on the Wellness Center continues.
Becker says a timeline is more set in stone for both the Wellness Center and the historic Romney Hall across the street, set to reopen in just more than two weeks.
“Almost every MSU student for generations to come is going to set foot in this building,” Becker says.
Becker adds the light is getting closer, with the Wellness Center slated to be complete in 2023.
Romney Hall’s grand opening is set for Nov. 12.
The new hall, built back in 1922, will now be transformed into a classroom building, with 17 classrooms from the basement to top floor.
Officials say that the hall will seat more than 1,000 students per hour throughout normal class days.
And will also offer spaces for the university’s veterans’ center and more, including the writing and math centers.
Classes will begin in Romney Hall next semester.