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NDSU files $500,000 claim in Minard Hall collapse

FARGO - North Dakota State University filed a $500,000 insurance claim with the State Fire and Tornado Fund this morning for damage sustained in a partial collapse of Minard Hall on Sunday, and that amount could go up, NDSU spokeswoman Najla Ghazi Amundson said.

The building's foundation had been stabilized by this morning, and officials were trying to figure out how to proceed with an addition and remodeling project.

Bruce Frantz, NDSU director of facilities management, and officials from Heyer Engineering were inspecting the building this morning to determine the extent of damage to the west half of the building's north side and how much of the structure would need to be demolished, Ghazi Amundson said.

"Obviously, that part of the building has to go," she said.

General contractor Meinecke-Johnson finished shoring up the building's foundation with soil about 1 a.m. today, Frantz said.

"So, the situation is stabilized, but we need to get a game plan in place so we can continue with the construction of the addition as well as the renovation of the existing building," he said.

Meinecke-Johnson is working on bringing in a Minneapolis contractor who specializes in structural construction to shore up the building so the $18 million project can proceed, he said.

Sunday's collapse will likely add "several hundred thousand dollars" in cost to the project, Frantz said, adding officials plan to inspect the building from the inside today to gauge the extent of damage.

Firefighters responding to the site early Sunday found the foundation had sunk along the edge of an excavation site on the north side of the building and the west half of the north outside wall had collapsed.

Problems with the soils under the building caused the collapse, Frantz said. Asked what was wrong with the soils, he said, "I guess I don't want to venture down that road yet."

Both the contractor and NDSU have insurance, he said.

"It's just a matter of who's responsible and all those kind of things," he said. "All that's to be determined. Everybody's working together harmoniously right now."

NDSU officials are working to find alternative office and classroom space for faculty and students displaced by the collapse, Ghazi Amundson said.

No one was inside the building when it collapsed.

The part that collapsed is part of an addition to Minard Hall built in 1929. Since the original building was built in 1901, Minard Hall has been added onto and remodeled several times, growing from 16,320 square feet to more than 105,000 square feet, according to NDSU's Web site.

Students will return to portions of building when classes resume Jan. 11, but the collapsed area - which was scheduled for renovation about a year from now - probably won't be used again, Frantz said.

"It doesn't make any sense to shore that up in its existing condition, because it's going to be changed totally as part of the project," he said.