The John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences, part of the University of North Dakota (UND), is currently fundraising for a proposed new flight operations building at Grand Forks International Airport (GFK), North Dakota.

The building will replace the existing operations building and adjacent hanger, which has served for flight operations for decades. The building is planned to become a centerpiece for aerospace students and flight instructors at GFK, and the updates will facilitate learning as well as provide a more welcoming environment to help recruit students, faculty, and staff.

“The building being used for flight operations is basically an old maintenance building,” Mike Pieper, Associate Vice President of Facilities, said in UND Today. “It was really never meant to be used the way it is now.”

For some 30 years, the current building has been the center of a program that has adapted, grown and changed. UND Aerospace attracts students from around the world, and just last year, students and flight instructors logged more than 126,000 flight hours. This saw GFK ranked as the busiest airport in the nation on 11 separate occasions, in terms of flight operations.

But while technology, aircraft and the number of students have changed and grown, the flight operations building has remained the same. Pieper said the building has been remodeled over the years to accommodate increased use by students and instructors, but no remodeling work can make the building larger; and in addition to aging, the building has issues with settling on the marginal soil on which it was built.

The goal of the campaign is to aim for a building that has been financed through donations, though administrators may explore other funding options. The price of the proposed project has not yet been confirmed, but the work is expected to be completed within 18 months.

Pieper said most of the pre-constructions work has been completed – the design was done by JLG Architects, and the services of McGough Construction have been secured as construction manager at risk.

UND is anticipating the project will result in a landmark building, with a new multi-purpose hangar that will celebrate the history of UND Aviation, allow for future expansion, enhance partnership, and create a greater connection to campus. The three-story building will have a sleek simulated-wood and metal design, and students and instructors will have a generous two-story view of the north Bravo flight ramp, which was rebuilt earlier this summer.

The Flight Operations Center will prioritize efficient workflow, technology and natural light, and will feature distinct areas for dispatch, records, instructor work areas and a flight store. The building will also provide briefing/debriefing huddle rooms, soft seating areas and an executive board room for future aviation professionals. The site design includes updates to the existing parking lot and the addition of a new parking lot, as well as upgrades to the drainage utility, with a new retention pond.