Marston Hall overhaul helps original building stay updated


Michael Rowley/Iowa State Daily

The recent changes and renovations to Marston Hall have displaced programs and offices.  

Erin Weirup

Marston Hall is often referred to as ‘the engineering building’ on campus. Originally, the building was dedicated as Engineering Hall in 1903 and wasn’t renamed Marston Hall — in honor of Anson Marston, Iowa State’s first dean of the College of Engineering — until 1947.

Today, the building stands desolate and closed to the public due to renovations. There had been many minor improvements to the iconic building over the years, but the current project is the first major renovation since it’s completion in 1903.

Before the renovations, half of the building’s mechanical systems were original to the 111-year-old building, and window air conditioners were being used in a quarter of the rooms. 

“Marston is one of the last of the iconic central campus buildings to have a major overhaul,” said Kerry Dixon, project manager of the Marston renovation. “We had done some major work in Curtiss, Catt Hall, Beardshear, Morill Hall, and the older, limestone, major statement buildings on campus except for Marston Hall.”

The finished project will house more classroom space and the College of Engineering’s student services and administrative offices. The updated building will also retain some of the original and familiar aspects of the building, such as the main entrance and the auditorium.

The faculty and staff previously housed in the building have been scattered all over campus.

“Moving out of the building was a difficult process,” Dixon said. “We had to get the departments moved before students went through classification to graduate and before orientation for the new students visiting campus.”

With the anticipation of moving into the new building in the spring of 2016, students say they are excited to have a new and improved facility to use. 

“By constantly renovating and updating facilities around campus, it lets students keep up with the growing technology and gives them the opportunity to compete in industry after graduation while also being able to add to an ever-changing tradition,” said Ryun Hobbs, a junior in aerospace engineering.

The project is anticipated to meet the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design Gold Standard. Dixon, who is also the coordinator of sustainability in design and construction, is working to make the building as efficient as possible.

The new building should be 30 to 35 percent more efficient than a typical code-designed building on campus, Dixon said. Besides using sustainable materials with high recycled content, this project is also tracking construction waste management to come out with as little waste as possible.

Dixon said the location of the building has made renovation difficult because of its lack of direct vehicle accessibility. However, efforts to make the construction of the new and improved Marston Hall were not cut short in any way.