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MSU begins demolishing gyms, planning for future after roof collapses

Posted at 1:44 PM, Mar 23, 2019

As of Friday, the walls of at least two buildings that suffered roof collapses earlier in March are coming down.

Montana State University officials announced that the Marga-Hoseaus Fitness Center will also remain closed for the rest of the semester.

“We want to recover from the loss of our gyms and we are beginning those phases right now,” says Michael Becker, director of the MSU News Service.

Since 1973, both the North and South Gyms, separated by the Upper Gym, have stood tall on MSU’s campus.

Now, weeks after two roofs collapsed days apart, the whole gym complex is being ripped down.

“We’ve been working very closely with our engineers, inspectors and our insurance companies to determine the safest and most efficient path forward and what we’ve determined is that the safest path forward is to rebuild these gyms into a new structure,” Becker says.

Becker says the goal — demolish and rebuild, saving the other buildings nearby.

“Obviously, we want to be careful of the existing structure to the west because that fitness center is something we hope to have reopened in the fall,” Becker says. 

In the meantime, he says students looking to work out have options.

“We want to restore services as soon as we possibly can,” Becker says. “We have some [fitness] items going into the Shroyer Gym. We have some items being relocated into Romney Hall and some items being relocated into Asbjornson Hall.”

MSU officials say crews have been working non-stop to make sure equipment like these bikes get to temporary locations across the university, one here in Asbjornson Hall and two others at least, one including weight lifting.

They say it is all for the students so they have a place to go.

“We’ll proceed throughout the rest of the year with consulting our stakeholders, talking with our students, our users of the fitness center and finding out from them what they want to see when we get to the rebuilding phase,” Becker says. 

As for what will replace the gyms, that could be in the hands of students.

“This is a student building paid for by student fees,” Becker says. “Students are some of its primary users and we want to make sure they are deeply involved in the process as we go forward.”

Becker adds that the exact cause is still unknown as the university’s insurers are continuing to investigate during the demolition.