Montana State University gives sneak peek at new innovation center


Montana State University gives sneak peek at new innovation center

BOZEMAN, Mont. - MSU hosted a meeting this afternoon to discuss the beginning stages of creating a new center for the College of Engineering, funded by the largest private gift in the state's university history.

On Tuesday, the Montana State University faculty, staff and the community got a peek at the beginning plans for the Norm Asbjornson Innovation Center.

The building is for the College of Engineering and funded from a $50 million donation by 1960 alum Norm Asbjornson.

"It's just a great opportunity for the campus and the local community," said Planning Design and Construction Director Walter Banziger.

The site they're recommending for the center is in the middle of the campus's core, where more than 600 parking spots now sit across from MSU's Strand Union building.

Banziger said, of all the sites they looked at, this one has the most advantages.

"It's a flat site, it's easy to develop, it's close to the College of Engineering," he explained. "Its proximity to those buildings is important, the proximity to the core of campus is important, to have collaborative opportunities with the other colleges."

But there are some downsides -- Banziger said the new building could cause traffic issues on adjacent streets and parking could be a hurdle.

"We know it's going to be impacted by a position of the site whatever is impacted would be replaced," Banziger said.

Those are problems they will have to work through, he explained. Ultimately, he said the center will benefit both Montana State University and the Bozeman community.

"Community interface is a very important opportunity not only to the College of Engineering but to the university as a whole," Banziger said.

Banziger said they hope to have their recommendation to the MSU's president before the semester ends in May.

MSU will host two more meetings on Tuesday, April 8 and Tuesday, April 22. The meetings will be held from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. in the Procrastinator Theater in the Strand Union Building. All interested faculty, staff, students and community members are invited to attend the meetings to learn more about the site input process and to provide feedback.

MSU said it hopes to move quickly with the designing process and break ground one year from now.

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