Hamline News

Breaking Ground


Hamline has always been considered groundbreaking. As Minnesota’s first university, founded in 1854, it has been coeducational and open to all faiths from the start, granting the state’s first bachelor’s and master’s degrees to Elizabeth and Emily Sorin. The university strives to continue this tradition of forward thinking and inclusive leadership with a plan to break ground on the corner of Snelling and Englewood Avenues—the site of a new University Center.

A $36 million facility, the University Center will serve as a prominent symbol of Hamline and will dramatically expand its capacity to accommodate and serve its community. A natural gathering place, it will bring a new dimension to university life and to the perspective of everyone who visits Hamline. “This will truly be the heart of Hamline,” says Richard Hoel ’69, chair of the campaign steering committee. “It’s where students, faculty and staff members, and alumni will gather, foster friendships, spark debate, and feel a real sense of belonging.”

The goal is to have sufficient gifts and pledges in place by the end of 2010 to break ground in spring 2011. The firm Shepley Bulfinch (which has designed student centers and dining halls for Georgetown and George Mason universities) was chosen out of 40 firms to design the building, which will have three floors—all made flexible with retractable walls and multi-use spaces to serve a variety of needs. The first floor’s large fireplace, sunlit gathering spaces, and coffee shop will invite interaction, while the second floor will replace Sorin as the new dining hall. Student organizations and campus offices will be housed on the third floor, which will also feature a meditation room and an outdoor terrace. Floor-to-ceiling windows facing campus will help bring the outside in, and the building will have two floors of underground parking— a welcome addition to campus. “The space will be at once visually stunning and fully functional. Every corner is designed to serve and inspire,” says architect Angela Watson.

In keeping with Hamline’s commitment to environmental responsibility, the University Center will be constructed with sustainable building materials and energy-efficient design. Solar panels will be implemented, and the university is working with Xcel Energy to incorporate other energy-efficient products and techniques.

Contemporary, functional, and environmentally conscious, the University Center will reflect Hamline’s ongoing commitment to serving its community. Says President Linda Hanson: “At the heart of today’s campus, the University Center is an exciting part of Hamline’s vision to create pathways for current and future generations of students. When future alumni reflect on their time at Hamline, their memories will be framed in part by this gathering place.”