The U's Folwell Hall for languages to reopen Sept. 6 following renovation


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University of Minnesota’s historic Folwell Hall to re-open Sept. 6

Folwell Hall, the gargoyle- and cherub-bedecked landmark at the corner of 15th and University avenues S.E., will re-open for classes on Tuesday, Sept. 6, after the completion of a $34.5 million interior renovation.

The University of Minnesota’s College of Liberal Arts (CLA) will host a public re-opening ceremony at 2:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 9, on Folwell’s south lawn. Board of Regents Chair Linda Cohen, university President Eric Kaler and CLA Dean James Parente will be on hand to cut the symbolic ribbon.

The opening ceremony will be followed by self-guided tours of Folwell, refreshments and games on the south lawn.

Folwell Hall is the largest foreign-language and culture training center in Minnesota; it serves 12,000 students each academic year. It closed in June 2010 for the renovation, which was supported by the 2010 legislative bonding bill. Built in 1907, Folwell now boasts classrooms that support the teaching of foreign languages and culture using the latest technology, as well as flexible furniture configurations that support small group projects, paired exercises and traditional lectures and film screenings.

Besides the classroom upgrades, the new Folwell has several dedicated student study rooms, convenient laptop recharging stations and student-oriented spaces consolidated in the two lowermost floors of the building. Two more floors house offices for four language departments: Asian Languages and Literatures; French and Italian; German, Scandinavian and Dutch; and Spanish and Portuguese. Graduate students from all four departments will share offices and study spaces on the top floor.

Additional upgrades to Folwell include added elevators, an accessible connection to the university’s tunnel system, fire safety features, bathrooms on every floor, and possibly most noteworthy, a quiet central HVAC system that replaces enormous, noisy window air conditioners that made language learning especially challenging during warm weather. The distinctive woodwork and marble on the first floor has been preserved.

“The needs of students guided the planning for the Folwell renovation,” said Parente. “Enhanced classrooms and study spaces in Folwell, designed for the learning of foreign languages and cultures, will help our students prepare themselves for our global society.”

Folwell Hall facts

Year built: 1907

Renovation architect: Miller-Dunwiddie

General contractor: McGough

Historic designations: National Register of Historic Places, as a contributing element to the Historic Knoll District

Departments housed in Folwell: Asian Languages and Literatures; French and Italian; German, Scandinavian and Dutch; and Spanish and Portuguese. Together they teach more than 20 languages.

Classrooms: 28

Students taught in fall 2011: 5,857 unique students

Class sections offered fall 2011: 468

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