After standing on the east side of Northwest’s campus for 88 years, plans are underway to vacate and demolish the Thompson-Ringold building.
Facility Services Director Allen Mays said a number of buildings on campus are slated to be demolished or renovated as part of the Campus Master Plan, with Thompson-Ringold scheduled for demolition within the fiscal year, which ends in June.
Since Thompson-Ringold houses the Mail and Copy Center, Adult Basic Education, the Regional Professional Development Center and the agriculture industrial shops, Mays said Facility Services is evaluating spaces to move the occupants in to.
“We’ve been in that phase for approximately six to eight months, and we’re getting very close to finding a location for those occupants,” Mays said. “Once we do that, there will be a fair amount of renovation that may need to happen to those new spaces that they’re going to be going into, and then once that’s done, we’ll relocate those occupants into those spaces.”
Mays said an architect is meeting with the team regularly to discuss potential renovation and relocation plans.
“It’s a healthy process; we’re meeting with stakeholders, meeting with leaders,” Mays said. “It’s just a normal process that you go through whenever you’re relocating occupants.”
Sustainability Coordinator John Viau said because the building is old, the materials and floor plan of the space are outdated and potentially hazardous. Not all of the building has HVAC and the roof was last replaced in 1987.
“There’s insulating material that goes in (the roof), and that vintage and that age, anything before 1980, there’s a really good chance that that is asbestos-containing material,” Viau said. “And that’s one of the considerations because abatement is extremely expensive.”
Thompson Ringold was built in 1931 to house the industrial arts program, according to the University index. It was named after Kenneth Thompson and Howard Ringold, who were long-time faculty in the department.
Viau said the industrial arts program moved out of the space and became the Northwest Technical School at Maryville High School around the 1980s.
For the past 20 years, Thompson-Ringold has been a flexible space to house departments temporarily. Viau said it housed student media while Wells Hall was renovated, and after that, it housed humanities while Valk’s basement was renovated.
Viau said the agriculture industrial shops will most likely be moved across the street to the Facility Services East building, which used to house University Police and Facility Services but has acted as a transitional space since new facilities were built on the west side of campus.
As part of the Campus Master Plan, new academic spaces will be built in Thompson-Ringold’s place to meet whatever needs arise. Viau said agriculture is the fastest growing department, which is why it has expanded into the McKemey Center and the Dean L. Hubbard Center for Innovation.
The next building to be evaluated as part of the Campus Master Plan is Wells Hall.