As you walk through the second floor of the SUB, close to the Ask Us desk you will find images of MSU’s current construction projects. One of those projects is the Norm Asbjornson Innovation Center for the College of Engineering. The center is designed to house both an advanced laboratory and innovative classroom settings for the thousands of engineering students who enroll at MSU every year. Currently 3,106 students, or 21.46 percent of the student body is part of the College of Engineering. The donor and namesake of this project is Norm Asbjornson, who has officially pledged to provide $50 million for this project. The center is currently in the planning stages and is projected to be completed in April 2017. Montana State is a highly respected engineering college, thus with careful oversight this project should be a productive addition to the campus. However, the projected location is problematic.
The proposed construction area encompasses two parking lots and eight public tennis courts, all of which are adjacent to the Marga Hosaeus Fitness center. High schools usually have four to six courts on their property, having eight public courts is significant, and losing so many is a major loss for students and faculty who wish to play outside. The effect on all students and faculty is the loss of not only available tennis courts, but also parking close to campus.
Many of the students who attend MSU have a car, and with parking permits costing between $70 to $753, close and convenient parking for these students is desired and expected. The closest parking spots to those scheduled to be removed are behind the Brick Breeden Fieldhouse. These are not the closest spots to the campus, unless you only intend to go to the fieldhouse or fitness center. After hat option the most convenient parking remaining is near Johnstone and Roskie, leaving the spots near North Hedges as the remaining and also farther option.
This project will be a new piece in the expansion of Montana State along with the new dormitory behind Roskie. Even though the planned site would be a significant loss to the campus, there is no other spot in the central campus area that it could be moved to. To keep it close enough to the other halls it has to be next to the fitness center. Montana State faces the same problem as many colleges, which is expanding the campus to accommodate for both learning and housing. The solution to this dilemma is to relocate the center if possible, as well as locate and plan for new sites for more parking lots.
The Asbjornson center will no doubt be an effective and successful investment by Asbjornson and Montana State University. As MSU plans further expansion and additions of residence halls, discussion of additional parking close to campus must be continued, for both the convenience of students and staff, as well as to keep the parking permits a worthwhile and useful purchase.