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Regenerating Hardman Hall to create the new NMSU Undergraduate Learning Center

NMSU Undergraduate Learning Center Ribbon Cutting

Posted by Francis Catanach, PE, SECB

The demolition of Jacobs Hall, the renovation and upgrades to Hardman Hall, and the enveloping of the site with the new NMSU Undergraduate Learning Center make the best use of space, money, time, and other resources to deliver an exciting facility for the next generation of students.

The original buildings of Jacobs Hall and Hardman Hall each had become obsolete. Designed in 1962, Jacobs had been intended as a music study and performance building. It was configured in a circular plan layout that had inherent re-use issues and numerous accessibility and code-related shortcomings that would have been prohibitively expensive to mitigate. Hardman Hall, designed in the 1970s, had fewer space-planning and configuration issues, but was also outdated and in need of upgrades.

Jacobs Hall and Hardman Hall prior to the renovation

Jacobs Hall and Hardman Hall before the NMSU Undergraduate Learning Center renovation and addition.

The reconstruction of the project was partially funded under general obligation bonds, and rather than complete demolition and new ground-up construction, taxpayers had been assured that the project would involve renovation and expansion of the existing facilities to maximize public funds. After extensive site analysis and studies, however, it became clear that the circular layout and cramped, dark interiors of Jacobs Hall would neither accommodate the square footage nor the program requirements.

Programming exercises

Programming exercises expose the limitations of Jacobs Hall, prompting the team to decide to demolish the building while preserving the core of Hardman Hall and designing a new addition.

The resulting approach taken by New Mexico State University and the design team was to demolish Jacobs Hall, preserve as much of Hardman Hall as possible to minimize construction costs and environmental impact, and design a new addition to create a cohesive look and modern feel at the center of campus. The project team leveraged 3D design models to facilitate the complex coordination effort that was to follow.

D/P/S structural engineers applied strategic structural and seismic upgrades to the core of Harman Hall. The renovation maintains Hardman's signature theater-style lecture halls and creates an atmosphere of environmental responsibility on campus by reducing project waste, saving embodied energy, and minimizing carbon dioxide generated from construction activities. Despite the additional concrete required for the voluntary seismic upgrades, preserving the core of Hardman is still estimated to have saved over 160 tons of carbon dioxide production.

While this solution diverged from the initial renovation concept, it still saved much of the structure and was much greener and more affordable than bulldozing and starting from scratch.

Preserving Core of Hardman Hall and reinforcing the structure

Preserving the core of Hardman Hall. Structural improvements included the addition of steel connection plates, new 4" thick shotcrete shear walls, and other structural upgrades.

As for the new addition, new Technology Enabled Active Learning (TEAL) classrooms, study spaces, protected outdoor patios, and other undergraduate resources are designed to provide a welcome home and comfortable learning environment for all new students of the University. Visit the project page to learn more about the complete regeneration of NMSU Hardman & Jacobs Undergraduate Learning Center.

Rendering of the NMSU Undergraduate Learning Center interior looking out to a protected courtyard