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New building honors old wood
October 30, 2008
As you come up to campus to check out the new Regents Hall of Natural and Mathematical Sciences, you might find it difficult to remember what campus looked like before the ring road was laid, Flaten Hall and Manitou Cottage came down and the parking lots were eliminated.
|St. Olaf Cabinetmaker Gregg Menning holds some of the college's new walnut lumber. Around him are a few members of the St. Olaf Facilities staff, including (l-r) Duane Schlobohm, Todd Code, Mark Kaderlik and Paul Mullenmeister.|
"It was just a continuous swath of trees," noted faculty member Charles Umbanhowar Jr. when asked by local NBC affiliate KARE 11's Boyd Huppert this summer about the area before the building began (see KARE 11 story here). Umbanhowar, a professor of biology and environmental studies, thought something special should be done to honor the 140 trees removed for the building. Like turning them into furniture. (Several hundred trees have since been planted around campus.)
So far Menning, who also crafted the boardroom table in Buntrock Commons and the Adirondack chairs throughout campus, has used the wood for conference room tables and benches throughout Regents Hall's long corridors. As for the beautiful, knotty grain on the finished pieces, "It makes it a little bit more real to the students and the folks that use them," he told KARE 11.
The stockpile of new lumber should supply the St. Olaf Facilities crew with wood for many years.