$3 million given to plan Lincoln Hall work
URBANA – Brad Bond ducked his head below a row of pipes and bent down a few inches as he made his way toward his office on Friday afternoon.
Past a stack of dusty glass panes, past piles of empty cardboard boxes and crates, and past a corner where there was a half-spilled bag of what looked like old cement mix.
He stepped a few feet to the right and stood back up to continue walking. This way, he could walk between the rows of pipes without bumping his head.
You learn a few tricks when you've worked in the basement of Lincoln Hall for a couple of years, said Bond, a doctoral student in speech communications at the University of Illinois.
"Lincoln Hall is a very cool building aesthetically," said Vinny Licciardello, also a doctoral student in speech and communications who has an office in the basement. "Everything concerning health is what I'd like to see fixed."
"The mold and mildew is ridiculous," Bond added.
There are a lot of stories about working in Lincoln Hall, where several dozen graduate students in speech communications and sociology have offices. Stories of visiting animals, particularly opossums, squirrels and bats. (No sign of those critters on Friday.) Stories about pieces of cement bricks or plaster crumbling down onto students' heads. Stories about students bumping their heads into exposed pipes as they try to find their teaching assistant's office.
"I've had students come into my office for a meeting 15 minutes late and they'll say, 'I swear I wasn't late. I just couldn't find the office,'" Bond said.
It's hard to find your way around the basement. The lighting isn't exactly bright. The generators aren't exactly quiet.
Will teaching assistants work here at night? Not many, Bond said.
Lincoln Hall, built in 1911 in honor of Abraham Lincoln, is in need of repairs. A lot of repairs. And the UI has wanted to renovate the building for years. But the project has been delayed because of a lack of money. Total renovation will cost an estimated $56 million.
On Friday, Gov. Rod Blagojevich's office announced it would release $3 million for the UI to renovate Lincoln Hall. UI President B. Joseph White, along with Jan Grimes, executive director of the Capital Development Board, the state agency which oversees construction projects in Illinois, and State Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, D-Urbana, made the announcement in front of Lincoln Hall.
"This is very personal for me. I've fallen in love with the beauty of Lincoln Hall," said White, who called the building a "spectacular monument" to President Lincoln.
The building, home to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, is on Wright Street and faces the Quad. The building contains classrooms, offices and a theater.
The building's exterior features terra cotta scenes of Lincoln and several quotes by the former president. The interior features marble floors and other marble accents.
"If you blur your eyes this is truly a magnificent building," White said. "Inside, the building needs a lot of work."
The $3 million announced Friday, in addition to $2 million announced previously, will pay for the planning and design of the building's renovation, to reconfigure existing classroom and office space. Instructional space will be on the first two floors and the backstage of the theater.
The top two floors will be for faculty office space.
The building needs new lighting, ventilation, heating and air conditioning, flooring, ceilings, walls and other improvements.
University officials hope to secure more money for the project to allow construction to start in 2008. White said he hopes setting this 2008 goal will drive people to make it happen.