BEMIDJI -- Bemidji State University’s newly constructed Hagg-Sauer Hall has been awarded the Government Construction Project of the Year by the Minnesota Construction Association at their 26th Annual Awards of Excellence Gala.

The 27,700 square-foot facility, erected by Terra Construction, features three smart classrooms, four mid-size classrooms, a large classroom, an auditorium and second-floor study spaces that overlook Lake Bemidji. Designed with students and sustainability in mind, the hall will actively engage students in learning with modern technology infrastructure, a release said.

The newly constructed Hagg-Sauer Hall replaced the 82,478 square foot original building built in 1970 and was named in honor of best friends and long-time colleagues Dr. Harold T. Hagg and Dr. Philip R. Sauer. The pair served as Bemidji State University department chairs and were professors in history and English, respectively. The 1970 building was formally retired in April 2019.

Conversations around reconstruction began when the original building faced millions of dollars in accessible, technological and structural upgrades. Hagg-Sauer Hall’s scenic location near Lake Bemidji also meant its basement and foundation sat perilously close to the lake’s water table. In all, by 2018 the total cost of Hagg-Sauer’s checklist of backlogged maintenance projects had swelled to $9.5 million. By the mid-2000s, the university identified renovations to Hagg-Sauer Hall as its top facilities priority, and turned to the Minnesota State Legislature for help, the release said.

In 2014, Bemidji State University received $1 million dollars from the legislature to help with renovation costs, but an additional $22.512 million was allocated towards the project in the state’s 2018 bonding bill. Demolition took place in July 2019.

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At the September 2019 groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of the new building, Jay Cowles, chair of the Minnesota State Board of Trustees, praised BSU’s planning processes and perseverance to see the Hagg-Sauer project to fruition.

“In the 2000s, the university set out on a thoughtful, deliberate planning process that looked at how to best serve our students and enable them to achieve their fullest potential into the 21st century,” he said. “The result is seen in the replacement of Hagg-Sauer with a smaller, far more flexible facility to house a full array of programs and courses well into the future.”

The project was officially completed with a ribbon-cutting ceremony in November 2020 and welcomed students for the first time during the Spring 2021 semester.