About the Project

The updates are focused on the core of the building, touching some of the school’s most prominent and frequently used spaces. This totals roughly 70,000 square feet (25% of the building's total) and includes a transformation to the auditorium and atrium. Some classroom and study spaces on the lower, first, and second floors will be revitalized, including a new Enterprise Lab suite and a larger Analytics Lab space on the first floor. 

The auditorium is being reimagined to allow for more connectivity during events. A new retractable wall at the rear of the auditorium will create the option to connect or separate this space from the atrium. Classroom 1-114 and the support spaces separating the auditorium from the atrium will be relocated to create a pre-function space or additional event seating. 

The interior of the auditorium will be upgraded with new finishes, lighting, and technology. The seating will change to fixed tables with movable chairs. The tiers will be extended to fit two fixed tables per tier to allow for more collaboration. The seating changes will increase the auditorium’s current capacity to 265 seats (from 250). The addition of chairs and high-top tables in the new pre-function space will increase overall capacity to 350 seats.

A new feature staircase with a switchback design will connect the lower, first, and second floors as well as allow seamless access to Hanson Hall via the skyway. This staircase will replace the current one on the school’s east end that connects the lower and first floors. The central staircase in the atrium that currently connects the first and second floors will be removed. The atrium will be upgraded with new finishes, lighting, and technology.

On the first floor of the atrium, part of the current stair opening to the lower floor will be infilled, adding 965 square feet. The increased space provides more room for visitor seating and student collaboration. The north side of the atrium will feature a large digital media wall atop a fixed, accessible stage. The central atrium can accommodate 220 seats for events. 

On the second level, about 2,600 square feet of new floor space will be added to complete a full circulation loop around the atrium. The extra space will allow for more open study areas on the east end of the second floor. 

The four Enterprise labs will be moved to a new suite space on the first floor adjacent to the atrium. The Brands, Funds, Consulting, and Ventures Enterprises will each have their own workspaces and breakout rooms and/or offices. The Enterprise Suite will also feature a shared area with four meeting rooms, an office, and a common space with a kitchenette. 

The Analytics Lab will move to a larger space near the school’s northwest entrance on the first floor. It will feature an open workspace, a meeting room, and breakout rooms/offices.

The project aims to create more gathering spaces for students to study, collaborate, and socialize. On the first floor, there will be five open area common spaces, strategically located adjacent to the Enterprise Suite, the Analytics Lab, and the atrium. There are about 140 seats across these five common spaces. Added space on the second floor will allow for more open study areas on the east end. The lower floor will also provide more study space near the new switchback staircase.

The renovation project will provide 25 collaboration rooms across the school. Of the 25 rooms, nine will be new spaces and eight will be renovated with new finishes and furniture. The eight remaining rooms, which were either recently renovated or remain in good condition, will have their exterior entrances refreshed.

There will also be six focus rooms added for individual study on the first floor adjacent to a common space, where the Graduate Student Lounge is currently located. Additionally, the current Seminar Room (1-122) will be turned into a quiet study lounge, which will seat up to 25 students.

The current Graduate Student Lounge (1-112 and 1-113) will be turned into a common area and individual focus rooms. The new Graduate Student Lounge will move into the current Enterprise lab space on the lower level in rooms L-151 and L-155. While most of this space will not be renovated, a kitchenette will be added to the area.

Due to the changes on the first floor, two classrooms (1-149 and 1-114) will be relocated to the lower level and will replace the Computer Labs (L-112 and L-113). Access to computers will remain available in the Hanson Hall lower-level IT space.

The future placement of the globe sculpture is still being finalized and will be determined during the design phase of the project.

Choices regarding the new furniture style, trim colors, and other materials will be finalized during the design phase, which will occur throughout 2024.

No. Entries and exits are not part of the Connecting Carlson project.

For the pre-design phase, a steering committee worked with a University Capital Project Management team from 2018-2019 to establish project goals and priorities, which underwent a realignment in 2022 following the COVID-19 pandemic. Connecting Carlson is currently in the design development phase to review design concepts and complete budget validation. The design phase is expected to take place from 2023-2024, during which furniture and trim selections will be made. Given the current project scope and understanding, the plan is to start construction in December 2024 and complete construction in Fall 2026.

The Construction Process

Connecting Carlson is estimated to cost $40 million, which will be funded solely by philanthropic sources. The project will not be funded by student fees.

  • Construction: $28,422,300
  • Non-Construction: $11,577,700
  • Total Project Budget: $40,000,000

As of November 10, donor gifts of $24 million have been committed to the project.  The University will provide financing to move the project forward as the remaining funds are secured.

A definite construction timeline is still being finalized. The project will occur in phases, which means some parts will be completed before others. Given the current project scope and understanding, the plan is to start construction in December 2024 and complete construction in Fall 2026.

Yes, when the phase of the project reaches each area. The intent is to minimize disruption throughout the entire process, such as completing work during extended break periods and evening/off hours or relocating events from the atrium to other venues. As plans for the phased construction process solidify, more engagement and outreach will be completed.

Two architectural design companies are working in partnership to design the building revitalization: BWBR and Clark Huesemann. The construction firm for the project is JE Dunn. The firms were selected via an RFP process that is facilitated by the University’s Purchasing Services with support from the Capital Project Management Team.

Stay Connected

If you have questions about the Connecting Carlson project, please contact csom@umn.edu.