New Year, New Student Union

Your home away from home

By Lexi Byler

Originally constructed in the mid 60s, the Comstock Memorial Union hadn’t been renovated since 1992. Having not been fully refurbished since before most Minnesota State University Moorhead students were born, it was time for an upgrade. 

During the fall semester in 2011, the task of renovating the union was initiated. Multiple decisions were made by students, faculty, staff and administration prior to breaking ground in May 2015. One of them was a set of goals for the renewed building. They narrowed it down to a list of five priorities: daylight, space with a coffee house atmosphere, a welcoming entry, social lounge spaces and a fireplace.

Comstock Memorial Union director Layne Anderson was an instrumental part of the renovation process. He helped lead conversations with students, faculty, staff, administration and architects.

“A welcoming entry was incredibly important to students. Especially from multiple perspectives,” said Anderson.

The building was handicap accessible pre-renovation but not in the most convenient way. Students wanted a more welcoming entry to all students, including those with disabilities. At the main entrance now, a large ramp sits front and center, allowing for easy access to the entire lower level of the union.

Not only is the building more accessible; it’s more open. When you walked into the union before, you’d find outdated furniture and several closed-off spaces and hallways. Now you’ll find an assortment of furniture and plenty of open space that’s easier to maneuver. There are over 20 seating variations with different pops of color to form a bright and fun atmosphere.

Student body president Charles Bergman was one of the first students to utilize the renewed building. As a senior, he had gotten used to the outdated look and was pleasantly surprised by the changes.

“Before the renovation, it was a lot more closed off, a lot more separation. It wasn’t as open as it is now,” said Bergman. “I’ve already picked out a few of my favorite chairs.”

With a budget of approximately $9 million, the university had large goals for the new union. Not only did they plan to remodel the existing 34,000 square foot structure, but would add an additional 3,400 square feet to the building.

The campus community can now enjoy the comfort of a new atmosphere and dining experiences. With the addition of SubConnection, Wholly Habaneros, Wow! Café and Wingery and Jamba Juice, as well as a newly renovated Starbucks, the array of choices are enough to please anyone’s taste buds.

While the new food choices are exciting, the student union is for much more than eating. It’s a place where students can study, hold meetings and socialize.

“It’s a place where students can feel safe, talk to other students, can do homework, have places to go to eat. It’s their home away from home essentially,” explained Bergman.

Thanks to the hard work by the campus community who was involved in the planning process, Cuningham Group, Workshop Architects and Terra General Contractors, MSUM now has a renewed space to enjoy.


For more information, see KVRR’s story on the newly renovated CMU.