Following Gov. Rick Snyder’s signing of legislation that increases the scope of the project, Lake Superior State University has recently awarded bids for its R. W. Considine Hall expansion, paving the way for construction to begin this season.
Originally a $12 million refurbishment, the now $13.5 million project will open to students in fall 2016. Once completed, the former South Hall – renamed R.W. Considine Hall after benefactor Robert Considine of Trout Lake — will house the Lukenda School of Business and will provide state-of-the art facilities for all students on campus.
The building’s architect/engineering firm is Cornerstone Architects of Grand Rapids, and the project construction manager is DeVere Construction Co.
“We are pleased that the governor has signed the legislation to allow us to move ahead with the project and are looking forward to getting the construction work started,” said LSSU President Tom Pleger. “This project will be a major improvement for the campus and will position the Lukenda School of Business, and the university, for growth.”
Dr. David Finley, dean of the LSSU College of Business and Engineering, agreed.
“This is a very exciting time for the Lukenda School of Business. We’re now firmly poised to take our already strong program to the next level, with a high-tech, state-of-the-art facility to support our efforts,” he said. “With so many of our graduates garnering leadership positions in northern Michigan and Ontario companies, the completed R.W. Considine Hall will support sustainable economic development throughout the region for many years to come.”
The building is a former Fort Brady barracks that was built in the early 1900s when the U.S. Army moved the fort to its hilltop location from the banks of the St. Mary’s River. It will be remodeled in two components — the first is the renovation of the existing 32,000 sq. ft. building to include much needed infrastructure upgrades as well as classroom and office renovations. The second project component is an addition of approximately 12,000 sq. ft. to connect the original two wings and form an atrium that creates an interactive commons with an expanded café, new program rooms, and support space, including a securities trading lab and the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, which will serve as a resource for the surrounding business community.
Construction is set to start this spring and is scheduled to be completed in May 2016, according to LSSU Vice President for Finance Sherry Brooks, who is the project manager.
“Everyone has been very patient and supportive of this project,” said Brooks. “The symbolic groundbreaking was held last spring and we are excited to start construction in earnest, now. We are pleased to be able to save and readapt this beautiful historic building for our campus, its students and the community.”
Building namesake Robert Considine, recipient of an honorary doctorate degree from LSSU in 2014, has been a strong partner with LSSU in improving education in the business and healthcare fields, especially. Through his R.W. Considine Foundation, he worked with the LSSU Foundation to establish the “Bring it Home” campaign, which wrapped up the fundraising for the South Hall project.
“We couldn’t have done it without him,” said Tom Coates, executive director of the LSSU Foundation. “His passion and his eagerness to challenge us are admirable.”
Over the years, Considine also established the Robert Considine Community Fund with the LSSU Foundation to help students from the Trout Lake area work toward achieving a college education. In the 1990s, he established a fund to benefit students at Rudyard High School, his alma mater.
In recent years, he turned his attention to healthcare and saving lives by supporting the LSSU Simulation Lab and outfitting northern Michigan ambulances with equipment that provides the ability to diagnose patients sooner.
Considine, 85, was raised by his mother and grandparents in Trout Lake, northwest of St. Ignace. Their guidance inspired him to become a significant example of where hard work can take a person, no matter how challenging his background. Following high school, Considine enlisted in the Navy for five years, part of which he served in the Korean War. Later, he applied skills he acquired in the electronics and robotics fields by starting companies that supplied automotive manufacturers with welding presses, assembly machines and transfer systems.
For more information on the South Hall – Considine Hall project, including an animation of how the project will look when it has been completed, visit http://www.lssu.edu/foundation/southhall/. Watch the university website for updates as construction progresses over the next year.