Montana State University — Romney Hall Adaptive Reuse
The renovation of Romney Hall on the Montana State University campus modernized the historic building, originally constructed in 1922, while preserving its character and helping the university meet the needs of a growing student population. The project transformed the former physical education building into much-needed instructional space, adding 17 classrooms and centers for mathematics, writing, veterans, and students with disabilities.
Cushing Terrell, in partnership with SRG Partnership, provided in-depth programming and physical analysis of the building. The resulting design solution was developed based on physical assessments of the architectural, electrical, mechanical, and structural systems, which dovetailed with conceptual plans dedicated to student and faculty success.
Romney has been an incredible sustainability success in that we were able to reuse a 100-year-old building, transforming an iconic and historical structure into a premier teaching facility to serve students for decades to come.
Associate Vice President for University Services
Montana State University
The starting point for the project was consensus that the character-defining features of this Italian Renaissance-style building should be retained, celebrated, and used as a guide for planning. Plans included modifications to bring the building up to code, improve energy efficiency, add restrooms, reinforce the building against seismic events, and provide accessibility at all levels. The goal of providing 1,000-plus classroom seats was implemented through various classroom types ranging from 24-seat instructional rooms to the 300-person “classroom in the round,” which showcases the former gym floor.
In alignment with the university’s sustainability commitments and the State of Montana’s High-Performance Building Standards, modernizing the historic building to meet 21st century student needs included pursuit of USGBC Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building certification. Romney Hall was awarded LEED Gold in 2022.
The Story Behind Romney Hall’s SolarWall Addition
A new stair/elevator core addition that incorporates SolarWall technology replaced the existing stair tower on the south side of the building to make all floors of the building accessible.
The enclosure is primarily comprised of aluminum curtain wall, which provides a high degree of transparency to reveal the historic brick wall, while the elevator shaft is clad in dark-colored perforated metal panel, which captures solar-heated air. This heated air is incorporated into the building HVAC system, helping to reduce energy consumption and heating costs.
Another fun fact about Romney Hall: The building benefits from a high-efficiency geothermal energy system under the Romney Oval. The system will serve other nearby buildings as part of MSU’s campus-wide energy master plan being developed by Cushing Terrell’s Energy Services team.
Pictured are the solar enclosure after construction and the original conceptual rendering (below).