Strong bonds: Construction students, alum helping lead renovation of South Hall

Two interns, two project managers building pride into residence hall, which is scheduled to reopen in fall
The $25 million South Hall renovation project began with construction in May 2022 and will wrap up in August 2023.
​Jerry Poling | March 24, 2023

This fall 350-plus students will move into renovated South Hall at UW-Stout and enjoy a bright, modern living environment as they pursue their higher education and career goals.

The $25 million refresh of the building includes updated restrooms and showers, room makeovers with new furnishings, new lounge spaces, the latest technology, an elevator and a new, central entryway facing the campus mall.

The renovation will include one additional feature that students won’t be able to see but might be able to feel: university pride. Two current students and two alumni from the university’s construction program are part of the crew that’s turning the 1967 brick building into one that can last until 2067 and beyond.

An architectural rendering shows the new central entrance on the north side of South Hall. The previous main entrance was on the south side of the building.
An architectural rendering shows the new central entrance on the north side of South Hall. The previous main entrance was on the south side of the building. / UW-Stout

Construction majors Noah Gansluckner, of Plum City, and Tommy Quinn, of Cameron, are “commuting” across campus to work on the project when not in class. Ryan Wichmann, 2010 graduate, is the project manager for general contractor Market & Johnson of Eau Claire. Chad Schlough, 1997 graduate, is overseeing heating, ventilation, controls and insulation as project manager for Pioneer Power of Woodbury, Minn.

“I’m learning a ton and enjoy coming to work every day,” Gansluckner said. “It’s an awesome group of guys here on site, and it gives you a sense of pride to work on something you’re such a big part of.”

Neither Gansluckner, a senior, nor Quinn, a first-year student, have lived in South Hall, but they are picking up a paycheck to help pay for their education along with skills in their career field.

From left, UW-Stout alumni Ryan Wichmann and Chad Schlough and students Tommy Quinn and Noah Gansluckner are part of the crew renovating South Hall.
From left, UW-Stout alumni Ryan Wichmann and Chad Schlough and students Tommy Quinn and Noah Gansluckner are part of the crew renovating South Hall. / UW-Stout

South Hall is at the northeast corner of Broadway Street and 13th Avenue E. The project was approved by the State Building Commission in 2021. Construction began in May 2022 and is on schedule to wrap up in August, in time for students to move in when classes begin Wednesday, Sept. 6.

“Student success at Stout depends on what happens both inside and outside of the classroom, lab or studio, and this project will allow for students to live in an updated, dynamic and engaging environment,” Chancellor Katherine Frank said.

Justin Utpadel, UW-Stout director of Facilities Management, said an overarching goal of the project is to “create spaces that foster relationship building, integrate sustainability and provide for an improved experience that supports student success.”

South Hall is the third recent residence hall renovation. McCalmont Hall reopened in 2014 and North Hall in 2019. Similar to those projects, silver metal cladding will be added to portions of South Hall’s brick exterior.

Renovations of other residence halls on south campus are in the university’s capital plan. Previously, renovations were completed on two north campus residence halls, Hovlid in 2010 and Fleming in 2012.

Heritage Hall Renovation

This project creates a new, unified home for the College of Education, Hospitality, Health & Human Sciences (CEHHHS) within Heritage Hall.
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The next project on UW-Stout’s radar, although not a residence hall, is the renovation of the Heritage Hall classroom building. It received priority approval from the UW System Board of Regents, is ranked No. 1 in the Chippewa Valley and No. 3 for major academic building renovation projects in the UW System.

Gansluckner is a field engineer intern for Market & Johnson, working from four to eight hours a day or about 30 hours a week. Supporting Wichmann’s work as project manager, he coordinates workflow, handles change orders and troubleshoots day-to-day issues with foremen, architects and the university.

“It gets to be a lot going to school full time and I’m taking a lot of credits too, but the experience is really valuable and I enjoy it a lot,” he said. “It helps reinforce all the concepts I’m learning in class.”

He even helps lead tours when his professors bring in other construction students. “It’s really cool when I can hop in on the tour. I usually end up leading it at that point.”

Gansluckner, who will graduate in December, interned in summer 2022 with Market & Johnson, part of UW-Stout’s polytechnic, applied learning focus that ensures experiential learning.

He worked on four projects in the Eau Claire area, including the new Eau Claire Children’s Museum. “There was some pretty creative construction going on there. It was fun to be a part of,” he said of the museum.

Tommy Quinn, a first-year construction major at UW-Stout, is helping build interior cement block walls at South Hall.
Tommy Quinn, a first-year construction major at UW-Stout, is helping build interior cement block walls at South Hall. / UW-Stout

Quinn is on the job as a mason apprentice, learning a skill that will serve him well as a potential future project manager. He has been building new, interior cement block walls that are needed for the renovated restrooms and elsewhere. Up to 10 masons were on the job at one time.

“I’ve learned a lot. You see everything, plumbing, HVAC, electrical, that you have to work around,” said Quinn, who has worked summers for Market & Johnson since he was a sophomore in high school.

Wichmann also began his career in high school as a part-time mason tender. “There’s more opportunity now than ever in the construction industry,” Wichmann said.

The employment rate for graduates from the construction program in fall 2021 and spring 2022 was 100%, according to UW-Stout’s new First Destination report. The average starting salary was $61,000.

Quinn has been working at South Hall until about noon daily, then going to class in Jarvis Hall three blocks away. During winter break, he worked 40 hours a week.

His father was on the crew that worked on the North Hall project.

Ryan Wichmann, a 2010 UW-Stout construction graduate, is the South Hall project manager for general contractor Market & Johnson of Eau Claire.
Ryan Wichmann, a 2010 UW-Stout construction graduate, is the South Hall project manager for general contractor Market & Johnson of Eau Claire. / UW-Stout

In 13 years since graduating from UW-Stout, Wichmann has worked on other campus construction projects for Market & Johnson, including the Memorial Student Center renovation and football stadium repairs.

As a project manager, he has been on the South Hall project from the start, planning the work schedule, securing about 30 subcontractors, overseeing demolition and monitoring the Market & Johnson staff on site, currently 15 to 20.

At this stage of the renovation, Wichmann is on site one day a week to check on progress and new issues, then is off to other job sites the rest of the week.

He’s had a chance to work with one of his former construction professors, Mike Bowman, who now is a project manager with UW-Stout’s Facilities Management.

Wichmann, who had college friends living in South Hall, is excited to see the project come together. “The plumbing, mechanical and electrical systems went through their useful life. The exterior and bones of the building are just fine.”

B.S. Construction

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Schlough is a Menomonie native, although this is his first project at UW-Stout in more than a quarter-century since he graduated. He continues to live in Menomonie and is a member of the Menomonie City Council.

Although he had driven by South Hall hundreds of times, he had never been inside until demolition began in May 2022.

As the HVAC project manager for Pioneer Power, he oversees a crew of workers, handling change orders and daily on-site issues.

“We had 20 guys on the job at one point. We’re winding down with that work. It’s been a good job to be part of,” Schlough said.

Like Gansluckner and Quinn, Schlough remembers getting field experience when he was working toward his degree at UW-Stout in the mid-1990s. He took a year off school to help build an Ocean Spray cranberry facility near Tomah.

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