Solberg Hall gets new lease on life; reconstruction started April 26


A celebration marking the start of the reconstruction of Solberg Hall on the SDSU campus began at 2:45 p.m. on Friday, April 26.

Speakers for the program included SDSU President Peggy Gordon Miller, SDSU Dean of Engineering Lewis Brown, SDSU Engineering Technology and Management Department head Reza Maleki, Solberg family representative Barbara Murphy, SDSU Foundation Vice Chair Alan Tuntland and SDSU Foundation Development Committee Chair Jerome Lohr.

Private gifts of $3.93 million dollars received through the SDSU Foundation are being used to fund the reconstruction project. The 101 year old building has been closed since November of 1998 when a structural analysis done by an engineering firm determined the building’s wood frame interior was inadequate to support current uses.

The new Solberg Hall will house SDSU’s engineering technology programs. In addition to classrooms, offices and laboratories, the reconstruction work will also add a three story elevator and stairs on the north side of Solberg Hall.

The reconstruction of Solberg Hall is exciting for SDSU’s engineering faculty.

“It was a very sad day when the doors were locked up and Solberg was sealed off,” Dean of Engineering Lewis Brown said. He recalled memories of taking classes in Solberg as a student and as a professor teaching classes in the historic building where Stephen F. Briggs developed the idea for the single cylinder internal combustion gasoline engine.

“One of the things I enjoyed of teaching in Solberg Hall is that it is where thousands of engineering students had taken courses over the past 100 years. One the first day of classes, I would tell students about the history of Solberg Hall and all the successful people who sat in the same classroom and them to dream what you could become yourself,” Brown said.

For the SDSU Engineering Technology and Management Department, the renewed hall will provide their programs a centralized location.

“Currently, staff, faculty, classrooms and laboratories are located in six different locations. When completed the new facilities and equipment will house all faculty and support offices as well as the majority of the laboratories,” said department head Reza Maleki.

Reconstruction on SDSU’s second oldest building is to be completed in about 18 months. The project marks the first time the state of South Dakota has agreed to lease a building to the SDSU foundation for a complete renovation of the inside of the building. Upon completion, Solberg Hall will be returned to the state.

Professor Halvor Christian Solberg, who introduced the mechanical engineering program at SDSU, directed the construction of Solberg in 1901. The building was originally called the Physics and Engineering Building but was renamed Solberg Hall in 1966.