Project to preserve historic feel


Artist renderings of new Lincoln Hall courtesy of Koch Hazard Architects.

Sam Schauer, Reporter

South Dakota State University is making sure the historic look of Lincoln Hall is maintained in a renovation project aimed at modernizing the 95-year-old building.

Jonathan Meendering, a design architect for the Lincoln Hall project, said the focus of the renovation has been to keep the historic look of the building while bringing the inside into the 21st century. Minimal changes will be made to the exterior of the building. 

The main entrance on the northside will keep its decorative plaster in the ceilings. The lights have also been refurbished and updated with LED lights, along with opening the skylight to allow natural light into the building. General finishes will also keep the historic feeling.

“The most unique part of the Lincoln Hall Project is keeping the historical detail of the building,” Colin Gaalswyk, manager of the Lincoln Hall project, said. “The contractor is going to take a lot more care in how he demolishes and removes stuff and puts them back together.” 

The Lincoln Hall project started in 2012, and took eight years of planning for the funding, repairs and renovations.  

The actual renovation of the building started in 2020 and was originally split into three phases, but reduced to two, Meendering said.  

Phase 1 was focused on updating classrooms so the building could still be in use during that phase and phase 2. In addition, during that time, the crews improved and made the restrooms more accessible, updated the main lobby space and added a sprinkler system and air conditioning to the building.  Insulated windows were also added.

Originally, Phase 1 was supposed to be only a year long, but because of COVID-19, construction took four months longer than originally scheduled, Meendering said.  

Phase 2 started in December 2021 and will end in March 2023. This phase will involve the whole building for maintenance, repairs and renovations. Fall 2023 is the planned opening of the new and improved Lincoln Hall.

The School of American and Global Studies will be moving into Lincoln Hall, and Christie Garst-Santos, director of the school, said she could not be more excited.

“The main problem was we were split in half, with half of the school in Wagner Hall and the other in West Hall,” Garst-Santos said. “With Lincoln Hall, we will all be under one roof, and my favorite part is Lincoln Hall will have students and faculty close together.” 

Lincoln Hall will also be the new home for the administrative offices of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Science.

“A lot of kudos to President Barry Dunn and Provost Dennis Hedge for moving the project ahead and this hall will meet the needs of the college for a while,” said Lynn Sargeant, dean of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.

The total cost for the renovation is $13 million. The Board of Regents reallocated $3 million to SDSU, and $10 million was given in a bonding process to the Board of Regents, Meendering said.

“I think it’s always a significant achievement when the university can invest in existing buildings and bring them up to standard,” Meendering said. “Lincoln Hall is near 100 years old, and we’re now reinvesting into it to hopefully last another 100 years.”