The University of Minnesota returned Akerman Hangar Hall, circa 1948, to its original layout while reducing operational costs. The project was coordinated with the Center for Sustainable Building Research and the Weidt Group and Excel Energy to provide greater energy efficiency and maintain the historical integrity of the building.
The building was later renamed as the Gary J. Balas Atrium.
The renovation was part of an upgrade to the fire/life/safety systems in Akerman Hall and the old Mechanical Engineering buildings and was a top priority for the Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics (AEM) department. The renovation returned the hangar to its original layout, while the first and second floors were completely repurposed to provide flexible light industrial research labs, offices, and collaborative space for students in the AEM program.
The renovation corrected many building code violations, provides a more efficient use of space, and creates an attractive, engaging learning environment.