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LSU's Kirby Smith Hall to be demolished in 2022; here's what's next for the space

A student approaches Kirby Smith Hall’s campus-facing entrance.
Image courtesy of LSU Department of Residential Life
A student approaches Kirby Smith Hall’s campus-facing entrance.

LSU’s Kirby Smith Hall — named after Edmund Kirby Smith, a general of the Confederate States Army — will be imploded in early June, according to university officials.

The decades-old residence hall will become a “green space,” according to LSU Planning, Design and Construction Vice President Roger Husser. It will include benches, landscaping and new walkways leading into the interior of LSU’s campus.

“The idea all along was to redevelop that into simple, open green space,” Husser said. “Places to sunbathe, throw Frisbees — that sort of thing.”

According to the LSU Reveille, there was never any discussion about renaming Kirby Smith Hall because it’s been on the schedule for demolition for years. Husser said it’s certain to be demolished now since crews have already begun the process of asbestos abatement and prepping it for implosion.

The building will be brought down with explosives and will cost $4 million, according to the LSU Reveille. It can’t be knocked down conventionally because of the potential for damaging the surrounding buildings.

A subcontractor of the Lemoine Company, which has handled many of LSU’s recent construction jobs, will oversee the implosion.

Husser isn’t worried about collateral damage to nearby buildings. He said the implosion will be contained to within 10 feet of the edge of the building.

“The subcontractor that we have has done many, many implosions all around the United States in much, much tighter quarters — in downtowns and that sort of thing,” Husser said. “This one is relatively easy as compared to other buildings that are imploded.”

In addition to its controversial name, Kirby Smith Hall has been known as an eyesore on LSU’s campus. Morbidly dubbed “The Hospital,” “a filing cabinet for humans” and more by its residents, the building has stood as a prime example of brutalist architecture since 1965.

It officially closed May 2019, but was used for overflow student housing during the 2020-2021 school year.

Husser acknowledged that members of the public will be interested in watching the implosion, and said that his team is still working on identifying a safe viewing location. Surrounding buildings will be evacuated for the event as a precaution.

He said to expect more information about the demolition from LSU in May.

Aubry is a reporter, producer and operations assistant in Baton Rouge.