shortcut to content
Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

Individual Building Comments

Page address:

Nelson Hall

  1. The members of the faculty of the Department of Art wish to express our appreciation to Professor Larsson for his detailed comments on the Campus Facilities Master Plan and his remarks about Nelson Hall. At present, the Department of Art is experiencing such severe space problems in many of our studio facilities that the quality of the educational opportunities that we offer is adversely affected. Ten years ago, the department was evaluated by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design for renewal of our accreditation. In their report, the evaluators included the following statements: Nelson 2: "The studio seems to lack adequate air exchange for use with photographic chemicals.....despite the fact that photography was not being offered this semester....Given the demand for photography classes, the room seemed small." Nelson 3: "This basement lecture hall seemed inadequate for large art history lectures. Faculty complained of air circulation problems. A second exit route would be advisable, given the crowded conditions in the room." Nelson 4: "This room was spatially adequate, but seemed to lack adequate ventilation to remove dust and fiber from the air." Nelson 150: ... "there appears to be insufficient ventilation in the foundry and shell casting area and this facility suffers extremely from lack of adequate storage for materials, equipment, and student work. It is difficult for students to create large or more ambitious three- dimensional works without more open areas. With the class in session, students stacked clothing, books, etc. on top of table saws and other equipment, creating potentially hazardous circumstances." Nelson 203: "A poorly lit facility with small windows, this room was much too small for the classes being held in it. The cramped space has had a detrimental effect on student work." The evaluators noted that the cramped quarters in some areas "appeared to affect student work, which often reflected the limited facilities in the small scale and sometimes limited approaches of some student projects." At the time the report was written, the department had 187 undergraduate majors and 14 full-time faculty. Since then, our enrollment has grown to about 260 majors and our faculty has decreased to 13 full-time members, but the problems listed above continue, exacerbated by the increased enrollment that we are experiencing in all our classrooms. The rehabilitation of the third floor of Nelson Hall which occurred after a fire substantially improved the ventilation and appearance of the printmaking and painting studios, but the painting studio was always crowded and the increase in enrollment that we are now experiencing has created a hazardous environment there. Visitors to the studio encounter a veritable forest of easels, canvases, taborets, chairs and other associated items essential to the function of the studio. These items combine to create a jungle that is difficult to navigate, and the MSU safety officer has requested that aisles be established to allow students to exit more easily in case of fire. At present, it is simply impossible to accommodate this request and maintain the enrollments necessary to insure efficient student progress toward their degrees. It would be possible to provide quality instruction to the number of students enrolled in our classes if adequate space was provided, but under the current! situation, student development is hindered by the cramped conditions under which they must work. Students who do manage to work on a larger scale do so at the expense of others. The situation is even more problematic in the sculpture studio. The tools and tables necessary for the creation of sculpture occupy a very significant portion of the available floor space, severely limiting the amount of larger work which can be accommodated in the classroom. This is especially detrimental to the progress of intermediate and advanced sculpture students, who often are ready to experiment with works created on a larger scale. Students who weld often wish to make works which are five to seven feet tall, or wide. Again, if one student works large, another student is pressured to work small, or work at another time, or work somewhere else. Furthermore, as larger works-in-progress accumulate in the studio, they create obstacles to the safe movement of students and materials, and especially to the safe operation of the machine tools in the facility. Just making the work creates problems enough; storage is almost impossible because, as mentioned by NASAD ten years ago, "this facility suffers extremely from lack of adequate storage for materials, equipment, and student work." Things were bad then; they are much worse now.
    1. It was noted that Nelson Hall didn't even make it into the Master Plan
    2. Students from art said don't forget the Dept. of Art in the master plan. Another student also asked about art galleries in the new Student Union.
  2. I'd like to reference my comments to articles or paragraphs in the master plan, but Nelson Hall needs were not addressed. The air quality in Nelson Hall is terrible. Some faculty work in offices without air conditioning and temperatures reach 95 degrees and higher at times during the summer. Duct tape serves as a sorry barrier between some of us and the winds of winter coming in around windows. Students attend classes without air conditioning. Fans provide little comfort in rooms in which voices are difficult to hear. Art professors must deal with noxious fumes and all of us must contend with mildew. As such as I would like new campus facilities, I think Nelson Hall should be considered as a primacy site for renovation. I invite everyone to take a walk through Nelson Hall — drop in and take a look around — and then consider adding the building to the master plan's list of priorities.
  3. Need for renovations to Nelson Hall was expressed many times.
  4. There is a major need for better facilities in Nelson Hall. We have a photo major in the department, but for all the photo students, we only have one little class room, with a lot of old worn out equipment, and we DO NOT have a studio for photography, we do not have any kind of studio lights available, and there is a whole long list of things that the photography program would need to improve. But the photography program is just a little part of a long list of poor conditions in nelson hall. We need more space. work space for students, master students and faculty. we need storage space for art works. this is just some of the problems. I hope that the art department and Nelson Hall will be given priorities! the art department has a huge potential, and it really deserves better facilities. I'm graduating soon, but I would hope to see improvements when I come back for class reunions thank you and good luck with the master plan.
  5. Nelson Hall health and safety concerns Departmental identity more important than college identity Replace/renovate Armstrong Psychology should be united in one location Need for satellite labs like ACC to be available everywhere Need to look at division of laboratory and classroom space to be sure there's enough of both.
  6. I'd like to reference my comments to article or paragraphs in the Master Plan, but Nelson Hall needs were not addressed. The air quality in Nelson Hall is terrible. Some faculty work in offices without air conditioning and temperatures reach 95 degrees and higher at times during the summer. Duct tape serves as a sorry barrier between some of us and the winds of winter coming in around windows. Students attend classes without air conditioning. Fans provide little comfort in rooms in which voices are difficult to hear. Art professors must deal with noxious fumes and all of us must contend with mildew. As much as I would like a new campus facility, I think Nelson Hall should be considered as a primary site for renovation. I invite everyone to take a walk through Nelson Hall-drop in an take a look around-and then consider adding the building to the master plan's list of priorities.

Psychology/Armstrong Hall

  1. Nelson Hall health and safety concerns Departmental identity more important than college identity Replace/renovate Armstrong Psychology should be united in one location Need for satellite labs like ACC to be available everywhere Need to look at division of laboratory and classroom space to be sure there's enough of both
  2. I just returned from a Master Planning Information/discussion session in which President Davenport mentioned a shared classroom building as a priority. I agree that classroom space is sorely needed. But, I differ in the view that no college would occupy the classroom building. There is nothing inconsistent in having one college housed in a shared classroom building. Given that an expressed priority in the Master Plan was for a Social and Behavioral Sciences building, it would make sense for SBS to occupy a new classroom building. Within this context I want to reinforce the needs of my department, psychology, for new space. Our department is split between three buildings, the space we have in Armstrong Hall is terrible, and I need to remind those who have been here as long as I have that our placement in the Armstrong Hall basement was initially considered temporary (some 20+ Years ago). All those who have visited our space in Armstrong in the context of facilities planning (MSU presidents, representatives from the Cunningham Group, legislators, etc.) have acknowledged the inadequacy of our office, research and teaching spaces. Yet, whenever decisions are being made about finding new space for departments, our needs are never given priority. I appreciate the openness of the Master Planning process thus far and hope that this will continue as the details get hammered out.
  3. It is gratifying that the Master Plan (Time Line p159) calls for a new building for the Social and Behavioral Sciences. This would be of huge benefit to the Psychology Department and its students by bringing the department (currently scattered all over the landscape) under one roof. However, given the current political/economic climate, $30M for new classroom construction does not seem too likely. Even under these optimistic plans the Department would not be reunited for at least six more years. A more immediate reorganization should be in order, such as combining underutilized space in Trafton to create a site for Psychology.


  1. There are some extraordinary maintenance items that I have alluded to (and even mentioned) at Meet and Confer such as: Refurbishing the Ted Paul Stage Rigging-this is a HEALTH AND SAFETY issue. Our rigging system came with the building and even though we have tried our best to maintain it, it is dangerous and needs a complete overhaul. We have a bid dated 4/15/02 for $88,600 to do the job right. The Ted Paul Stage Floor-is also original to the building. This, too, is a HEALTH AND SAFETY issue. We have guesstimated that the replacement cost (including decking for the scene shop and recovering the orchestra pit) would be about $111,600 (over the phone estimate dated today). Reupholstering the Ted Paul Theatre seats (and the Recital Hall too)-have you seen these recently? They are falling apart. We have a bid for both the Ted Paul and the Recital Hall for $41,313 but it is dated back on 10/2000. We assume that it would be at least $50,000 now. Ted Paul Theatre Lighting Overhaul-we have a bid dated 4/01 that would include equipment, masonry work and installation. The total at that time: $179,536. As you can see, these are major items that don't neatly "fit" anywhere but should obviously be encompassed in master planning. And they are well beyond the scope of normal departmental equipment budgets. I also know that John Lindberg has similar challenges to face in the Music Department. Anyway, these are the top four pressing concerns for Theatre and Dance. Now that the Andreas has successfully opened, we need to move toward preservation and restoration. We appreciate any help you can give.
  2. We in Theatre and Dance are very concerned by the lack of specific attention to the Performing Arts physical plant in the Master Plan. There are very special needs for a building like this and they seem to have been ignored in this study. We would be happy to elaborate.


  1. The Minnesota State University community is now discussing a proposed Campus Master Plan. This plan deals with the placement of buildings, the management of green spaces and the regulation of traffic flow on campus. But one topic not covered in the Plan is the regulation of lighting on campus, both to provide a safe environment for students and faculty and to preserve the dark night sky necessary for the successful operation of the campus Observatories. The Astronomy Program, part of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, has a successful major program as well as a large general education enrollment. The Astronomy Program operates two Observatories on campus: Standeford Observatory just south of Hiniker Mill Road and Andreas Observatory, perched on the southern edge of the campus a quarter mile south of Standeford Observatory in as dark an area as the campus offers. Standeford Observatory is run by trained astronomy students for the use of astronomy students in the 100-level astronomy courses. Standeford Observatory is ideally placed for its purpose; it is close enough to provide easy access for on-campus students and it is far enough from parking lot, street and building lighting to offer reasonably good views of the sky. There have been over one thousand documented student visits per year to Standeford Observatory over about the last fifteen years. Andreas Observatory was founded in 1990 as the result of a generous gift by Lowell and Nadine Andreas as well as money from the National Science Foundation and funds from Minnesota State University. Andreas Observatory is used for upper-level astronomy students, for student and faculty research, and for public tours. Recently we have invested in new equipment - a new CCD camera, new computers, a wireless network connection, a spectrometer and telescope improvements - all ultimately to improve the Observatory's ability to gather light from faint stars. The University is also planning to invest in a system to reduce the light pollution to our south to the same end. Any poorly chosen nighttime lighting to our north will degrade the operation of this equipment. In order to preserve the usefulness of Standeford and Andreas Observatories we offer the following recommendations:
    1. No outdoor lighting should be installed in the athletic fields south of Gage Lot 1 and the existing track. If a lighted field is desirable we suggest putting it on the north side of the campus.
    2. Outdoor lighting associated with the new dorms planned for the area of the tennis courts should be horizon-limited.
    3. The University should gradually upgrade all its outdoor lighting, with some appropriate exceptions, to horizon-limited lighting. (Horizon limited lighting is not only good for astronomy, it is the best for lighting streets, buildings and parking lots as well as being the cheapest to operate. Also, it is desirable for the purposes of astronomy to use, when possible, low pressure sodium lighting, instead of the more common high pressure sodium lighting, because it is easier to filter out the nearly monochromatic low pressure sodium light at the telescope.)
    4. The University should work with the City of Mankato to insure that the housing developments to the east and south of the University follow the City's lighting ordinance.
    The astronomy faculty will be happy to work with the University and the City to implement these recommendations. During the process of putting together the master plan faculty were invited to meet with the consultants to offer input. The astronomers took that opportunity and spent hours with the consultants explaining that we need to preserve darkness in the fields south of Gage and that the campus needs to be fitted with horizon-limited lighting to further protect the Observatories and to provide excellent economical lighting for the campus community. As far as I can see there is not one mention of our concerns in the master plan. (Correct me if I am wrong - the document is very difficult to access and read.) I would like to see the addition of a section to the master plan that discusses the needs of astronomy and suggests way of accomplishing them to the benefit of astronomy and the entire campus community. I would be happy to help create such a document.
  2. Master Planner ignored programs request for no lighting near the observatory. They may have to shut down the observatory if lights go up on the fields near the observatory. He prefers horizon limited lighting for the campus but this is not practical for the athletic fields
  3. The possible negative impact of additional exterior lighting in the south side of campus upon the functioning of the observatories. This is particularly an issue with the possibility of added apartments and athletic facilities to the south and east of Ellis and Stadium.


  1. At one time, a performance recital hall with fine acoustics was scheduled to be built across from the PAC. That has disappeared from the Master Plan. They do not want to see a residence hall be built in that space. Were earlier master plans referred to when constructing this new plan?
  2. Additional space for musical performance needed. Current recital hall is functional but has very limited seating.

Graduate Office

  1. The University is considering investing a considerable sum of money in a new south entrance to the Student Union. If the proposed Student Union renovation moves forward and creates a need to reconfigure the Wigley Administration Center, the College of Graduate Studies and Research will be forced to vacate their currently occupied space. Anybody reading this message is now well aware that the Master Plan endorses the relocation of the Graduate College, but the Plan neglects to suggest just where the College might settle. We respectfully suggest that the staff members in the College of Graduate Studies and Research have been working for years in very cramped quarters, and that if we are to provide the level of service that is reasonably expected of us by the campus community, we earnestly believe that we require more space than we are currently allocated. While some may think we should be pleased about possibly moving from our current undesirable spa! Hence, we would embrace the impending move with greater zeal if we were convinced that we would relocate to a larger area. We would not be at all excited to move to an area that is smaller than our current insufficient space. The College of Graduate Studies and Research has broad responsibilities and serves many constituencies of the University community, ranging from bewildered prospective students to University faculty, administrators, and students. Similar to most administrative offices, we earnestly believe that we should be located in an area that is easily accessible to all. Thank you for soliciting comments about the Master Plan.


  1. Library Faculty members have discussed the Campus Facilities Master Plan and submit the following observations:
    The Master Plan is based upon outdated enrollment projections. For the benefit of library and department planning, accurate enrollment projections need to be added, and space needs recalculated.
    The Master Plan includes figures for library space based upon calculations collected prior to the move of ITS to Memorial Library. The figures have not been appropriately adjusted to reflect the actual square footage devoted to Library Services.
    The Master Plan does not reflect the evolving information and research needs of the campus, which dictate growing spatial needs for academic support. Additionally, Library Faculty submit these suggestions:
    More group study space is needed throughout the campus. The few spaces available within the library are in high demand. The Library is unable to fulfill all the individual and collaborative space needs for students. Consider a higher priority to a closed walkway connecting the library and student union buildings to make library services more connected to the campus.
    A high priority should be given to the need for a technology infrastructure and technology upgrades for library services.
  2. Finally, I would like to speak in support of suggestions regarding the Memorial Library that a walkway or tunnel connecting the library to the main campus should be included in the Master Plan. Among other considerations, architectural accessibility (often spoken of, but not as often actually achieved) for individuals with disabilities needs to be built in to a plan, not added on as an afterthought. Housing the Office of Disability Services in the basement may minimally comply with accessibility requirements but is less than ideal, particularly for individuals with mobility impairments. Also in relation to the library and comments about space for study areas and growing the collections, the library could be more specifically addressed in the Master Plan. I believe that one or more accreditation surveys found library space to be inadequate, or minimally adequate, even before a significant portion of the third floor was designated for Information and Technology Services. This will undoubtedly become more of a concern in the future.
  3. Student study space everywhere on campus should be planned. Would like to have the library linked to the rest of the campus, either underground or overhead. Has been suggested in the past.
  4. Supports any plan which could connect the library with other campus buildings.
  5. Planning for mobility needs of disabled students should be addressed. Likes the idea of linking the library with other campus buildings.
  6. Is there a tunnel in the future to connect the library to the rest of the campus? 2/Would like to see Disability Services not in the library, simply because it's the only building not connected and getting to the library in the winter can be a bear for anyone, but especially anyone in a wheelchair/crutches. Possible to move it Learning Center to more central location? Since it's for the students, in CSU? :
  7. Tunnel or overhead connection is needed to connect the Library with the Student Union to give better access to users and also provide for better delivery of multimedia carts in inclement weather.
  8. I think that the square footage in the Memorial Library building that is actually available for library collections and services is far smaller than what is indicated in the plan. The figures that were included were determined before the renovation that made room for Instructional Technology offices, conference room, etc. In addition, ML43 is now also used almost exclusively by IT. Is the remaining space adequate for collections and services, including reference and circulation, individual study space, group study space, teaching areas? The Library seems invisible in the document. One specific aspect of invisibility is a physical connection between Memorial Library and the rest of campus. I can now walk inside all the way from the Taylor Center to the end of the Student Union. However, there is no way to get to Memorial Library without going outdoors. I think this represents a psychological barrier as well as a physical deterrent to use. Ever since I've been on campus, I've heard about a "tunnel" that is to connect this building to the Union. In fact, one of the maps in the MP seems to show such a tunnel, but there is no mention in the narrative.
  9. How the library is now making collection management because of significantly reduced space due to IT's move into the library. The legislature granted us an $11 million remodeling so that we would have room for the collection to expand for 20 years, Now we don't have that. IT should have its own space with it's own generator, office space, etc.