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Michigan State UniversityMichigan State UniversityInfrastructure Planning and Facilities

MSU Graduate School to find new home in Chittenden Hall


June 30, 2014

Moving in

The MSU Graduate School has been planning its move into Chittenden Hall since the late 1990s, and the plan is now coming to fruition. MSU’s Graduate School, as well as the Council of Graduate Students, will move into the building in October.

The Graduate School was very involved in the process of evaluating the renovations that would best suit its and MSU’s programmatic needs for graduate education, as well as honoring the rich history of the building and preserving some of its older features.

 “We had a lot of input during the process and still have weekly meetings now, as the renovation continues,” said Dr. Karen Klomparens, dean of the Graduate School and Associate Provost for Graduate Education.

Planner/Inspector/Analyst II/Supervisor Andy Linebaugh, IPF’s project representative for the Chittenden Hall renovation, said the project’s proximity to MSU’s north campus infrastructure improvement project made coordination between both projects very important.

”Both construction managers attended coordination meetings during the design process and initial construction phases. They continue to have impromptu meetings as things come up during the construction and have co-located their trailers behind Old Horticulture to facilitate collaboration,” said Linebaugh.

History abounds

Chittenden Hall has a rich past, dating back to its construction in 1901 as State Agricultural College’s Dairy Plant. The building that will soon house the MSU Graduate School was home to a cheese-curing room, with several rooms dedicated to various cheeses and milks and a pair of large double doors that could be used to bring in dairy equipment.

The dairy quickly outgrew its space in the building and was moved to a new location in 1913. The forestry department took over the space and remained there until 1966.

In 1969, to honor the forestry department which had occupied the building for a 53-year span, it was renamed Alfred K. Chittenden Hall. Professor Chittenden directed the academic forestry programs from 1914 to 1930, conducted research on maple sugar and reforestation and developed a nursery on the campus that supplied tree seedlings to plant throughout Michigan.

Honoring the past, preparing for the future

Many of the past elements of Chittenden Hall are being preserved in the renovation for the Graduate School. The project involves a comprehensive renovation that respects the historical features of the exterior and interior of the building.

The sunburst brick entryway arch inscribed with the word “Forestry” dates back to 1913. The inscription was changed from “Dairy,” and the iconic tree trunks and limbs that make up the text were put in place. This inscription is still in place today.

 “It is very exciting to see all of the work being done to preserve as many of the historic features as possible,” said Klomparens.

The large double doors on the first floor are being preserved as a decorative feature of the building and serving as a reminder of all of the past work that took place in Chittenden Hall.

Preserved features of the building also include solid oak doors often with large glass transoms (windows above doors) , wood flooring and oak wainscoting (wall trim) in various areas, copper gutters and exterior masonry detailing. The new dormers on the roof were designed to match the building’s original architectural style. Many of the older wood beams and structural components have been reinforced.

While preserving historic features is one goal of this project, the balance has been made between old and new. Vacant since 1999, Chittenden Hall is receiving a complete technological package as part of the renovation, which includes wireless internet, a new phone system, LCD projectors, a smart-board and more.

Klomparens said that her entire staff is very excited to be moving into Chittenden Hall. The school has a section of its website dedicated to the Chittenden Hall renovation, which tracks progress and posts photos and updates of the construction process.

According to Klomparens, the staff is currently split between three buildings, and this move will allow them a greater sense of community as well as speeding up communications.

“We expect once we move individuals from three other locations into Chittenden, we will have greatly enhanced communications among our staff,” said Klomparens. “Having all the graduate staff in one place should help with the ‘one-stop shopping’ when students and faculty seek advice.”