Students pass by Tommie North Residence Hall during a sunny evening. Liam James Doyle/University of St. Thomas

Opus Wins Award for Design-Build Work on Tommie North

The St. Thomas collaboration with Opus Design Build, L.L.C. just notched another award. At the recent annual Design-Build Institute of America Upper Midwest Region (DBIA-UMR) awards, Tommie North Residence Hall received the Design-Build Excellence Award. This is the third time that Opus has earned a DBIA-UMR distinction for a St. Thomas project; previous award-winning projects include Anderson Student Center in 2012, as well as Anderson Athletic and Recreation Complex in 2011.

DBIA-UMR projects are evaluated on interdisciplinary teamwork, innovation and problem-solving that characterize design-build delivery. Winning projects are honored for the advanced and innovative application of total integrated project delivery and finding unique solutions for project challenges.

“With a focus on collaboration and communication throughout each phase of the project, Opus and St. Thomas successfully delivered another design-build award-winning project on campus,” said Alex Lord, the project manager for the new residence hall. “Tommie North highlights quality execution in construction, performed by highly skilled and experienced local trade personnel.”

Tommie North, a five-story, 210,000-square-foot residence hall, opened in August 2020. Tommie North provides housing for 480 first-year students and features amenities open to the entire campus community, such as the Northsider dining venue and the Corner Market convenience store. Tommie North is connected by an underground tunnel to the Iversen Center for Faith.

The construction of Tommie North, which sits on the site of the former John Paul II Residence Hall, took 16 months. John Paul II was required to remain operational until the academic year finished in the middle of May 2019. To work around this schedule challenge, Opus prioritized critical underground utility work, which allowed site logistics and truck traffic to move smoothly through the overall project site once the existing building was demolished.

“In addition to providing a very comfortable living experience for first-year students, Tommie North delivers an excellent first impression to visitors who approach campus from the north,” said Jim Brummer, vice president of facilities management. “Opus delivered an innovative and sustainable residence hall that’s a vital part of the upper quad transformation. They are very deserving of this award.”

Tommie North was funded by issuing tax-exempt public bonds, repaid over time by housing revenue generated. No tuition dollars were used to fund the project.