UI moving ahead with new engineering building

UI moving ahead with new engineering building

URBANA — A long-awaited project to build a state-of-the-art electrical and computer engineering building at the University of Illinois is moving ahead, with a bid opening scheduled in October.

The state Capital Development Board this week posted the project under its "procurement opportunities," advertising it to contractors interested in bidding on the construction.

As planned, the six-story, $95 million Electrical and Computer Engineering Building would be located on Wright Street, just south of the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, and would consolidate department programs now scattered in several north campus buildings.

Half of the project will be funded with state money and the other half with private gifts, College of Engineering Dean Ilesanmi Adesida said Friday. The state's $44.5 million has been released, and total funding now stands at $67.7 million, according to the department’s website.

"We are ready to move ahead now," Adesida said.

The state several years ago released $3 million for the planning and design of the building, and the UI hired SmithGroup of Chicago to design it.

The building has grown in size and scope since then, with the cost rising to an estimated $95 million and the square footage jumping from 150,000 square feet to 230,000 square feet.

Adesida said the department and its needs have also expanded, with 1,600 undergraduates and more than 500 graduate students.

The project has been on the drawing board for more than 40 years, according to university officials.

When it was resurrected about a decade ago, the hope was that it would allow undergraduates to tap into the research expertise at Beckman, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications and neighboring research labs. Those buildings have few teaching facilities, but 40 percent of the new building will be devoted to high-tech classrooms and instructional labs.

The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering is one of the most respected on campus, ranked among the top three in the nation.

The bid opening is scheduled for Oct. 14, with a pre-bid meeting on Sept. 14, according to the Capital Development Board.

Timothy Trick, electrical engineering professor emeritus, said the proposed building has been discussed his entire career here. "I joined the faculty in 1965. By 1967 or '68, the department was concerned that it was growing very short of facilities."

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UIUCHoopFan wrote on August 26, 2011 at 2:08 pm

And LAS waited HOW LONG for Lincoln Hall to be renovated? Good to know the needs of the few outweigh the needs of the many!

rocket0667 wrote on August 26, 2011 at 2:08 pm

The liberal arts do not get funded ahead of engineering and sciences because they do not produce much value for the university. Engineering brings in millions in grant money, etc.

9b1nbu wrote on August 26, 2011 at 3:08 pm

The Lincoln Hall site says it has been "80 years since the last renovation," not that LAS has been waiting 80 years. Both projects seem to have been in the works for about 40 years, and Lincoln Hall came first (it is almost done). The engineering college is second largest behind LAS. Both projects are high priority for the campus, based on previous news releases. I think Lincoln Hall was funded 100% by the state and campus, while this new one is only 50%.

ddf1972 wrote on August 26, 2011 at 3:08 pm

"Value" is not the right word, as it is not quantifiable by merely fidcuiary parameters. Research dollars, NSF funding, and the like - yes.

readone wrote on August 27, 2011 at 3:08 pm

There is a reason this building has never been done, and it is still a problem. They do not have the money! They have $67 million out of a projectd $95 million. If there are no delays or cost over runs, they are still $30 million short. Noit to mention furnishing the building, lab tables and classroom equipment is expensive. And then there will be staffing, janitroial sevice, maintenance and the like. Financially this building is a long way off.

jdmac44 wrote on August 29, 2011 at 8:08 am

The reason the funding isn't there is because donors have been waiting to see if the state can actually come through on their portion, the taps should loosen up now. (I say this as an employee at ECE)