Miller Dining Commons – Montana State University

Miller Dining Commons – Montana State University

Awards:  2016 ACEC Montana Engineering Excellence Award; 2015 Montana Contractors Award for Construction Craftsmanship

As the flagship dining facility for on-campus students at Montana State University’s campus in Bozeman, the 1970s-era Miller Dining Commons required a makeover after nearly 50 years of faithful service. Miller Dining Commons is one of several round buildings on the MSU campus. Maintaining these facilities poses several structural design considerations due to their shape.

Extensive renovation of the existing 45,000 square-foot facility was needed to add more seating capacity, improve the overall dining experience, and provide ADA access. As a result, approximately 10,500 square-feet of new additions were provided on three sides of the circular-shaped existing building.

The design team also provided a structural engineering seismic assessment to identify building infrastructure issues. The study revealed a serious need to provide structural reinforcing of the existing facility to address earthquake stability concerns. This led to an unexpected seismic retrofit and challenging seismic design/analysis on a round building. They determined that new reinforced masonry walls were needed to replace the vulnerable unreinforced brick and clay tile walls. Other new additions included a variety of systems: reinforced concrete, reinforced masonry, steel framing, wood framing, and light-gage steel walls with plywood sheathing.

The results of the analysis increased the complexity of this project, and the design team’s duties and challenges doubled. They were tasked with:

  • how to provide structural reinforcement for the existing lateral/gravity resisting systems that was economical,
  • work with the overall round-shaped, architecture of the building, yet limit the amount of existing building demolition to avoid disrupting the kitchen since students and staff still needed access to the building, and
  • perform a difficult analysis of a round structure with significant lateral stiffness irregularities.

The construction was phased over two years and was completed in August 2015.


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