Construction's in high gear on campus

Construction's in high gear on campus

When most of the campus clears out in late May, it's time for major construction projects to kick into high gear. This summer is shaping up to be a busy one, with one major project wrapping up (electrical and computer engineering) and a few others (center for wounded veterans) beginning to take shape.

Here's a round up of five (out of the seemingly 500) big projects going on this summer at the University of Illinois.

1. State Farm Center

This $165 million renovation is quite the project due to the magnitude, complexity and scheduling involved, said UI senior associate athletic director Tom Michael.

Work is being done in phases to accommodate the basketball schedules. The majority of the work being done this summer is not exactly the flashy kind. (If you're itching to see what the new suites will look like, you'll have to wait.) Current work essentially lays the groundwork for the big changes to come, like air conditioning.

The early stage has involved a lot of demolition. Remember the ticket office and canopy on the west side? Gone.

Work on the west side of the building entails, like the east side, building an enormous basement, 25 to 30 feet deep. The footings have been poured, there's no shortage of rebar on site, and the walls are being built. On the west and east side these new basements will house the mechanical rooms.

"Since we were going to be including air conditioning in the project, there was significantly more space needed to handle the air, by a pure square footage standpoint. As the project developed we decided it was better to build new rooms than to renovate," said Tom Michael, senior associate athletic director. The old mechanicals were housed on the north and south side of State Farm Center.

On the south side of the building, the concourse has been demolished and it will eventually be rebuilt in a similar way to the old style. They're keeping the all-cement look to the structure, Michael said.

On the north side there's a new steam line replacing the old one and the upgraded utility work that goes along with that.

Some of the vomitories or portals in the upper levels have or are in the process of being demolished. Those areas will be filled in with new seats.

Earlier this spring the old C section seats were removed and the new C section seats are scheduled to be installed starting in mid- to late-August as planned. The new ones are navy blue seats with the new Block I logo on the aisle side.

There have been a few, minor "bumps" along the way, Michael said, but nothing major enough to delay the project. For example, crews in one area began demolishing concrete that they discovered is thicker than anticipated.

2. Electrical and Computer Engineering facility

This $95 million project is nearing its completion stage, with substantial work expected to be done in July. The huge building on Wright Street, just south of the Beckman Institute on the north end of campus, is a whopping 235,000 square feet and will be home to electrical and computer engineering research. In its labs, students will make semiconductors. In its classrooms, they will learn about transistor inventor John Bardeen and LED inventor Nick Holonyak Jr. It also will house offices, meeting spaces and more. What's notable about the building is it will be LEED certified, meaning it will meet certain standards in energy efficiency. Features include over 1,000 solar panels on the roof.

3. Ikenberry Commons #3 Residence Hall

So long, "Six Pack." Hello, fancy new dorms. Several years ago the university began demolishing and updating the cluster of dated residence halls bordered by East Gregory Drive, East Peabody Drive, South Fourth Street and South First Street. The first phase was completed in 2010 and the campus is now building the third residence hall in this block. This one, yet to be named, will be four stories tall and contain a mix of single and double rooms plus "semi-suites" for a total of 484 beds. At a cost of $76.7 million, the brick and stone building should open in Fall 2016. The construction work just west of the building entails building a storm water retention system under the playing fields.

4. Chez Family Foundation Center for Wounded Veterans in Higher Education

This brand new building at 801 W. Nevada St. on the east side of campus will be home to injured veterans. The three-story, $14 million building will be about 31,670 square feet. It will include housing for veterans, offices that will offer career and psychological counseling, rehabilitative programs, plus lounge and meeting space. It is expected to be completed in Spring 2015.

5. Natural History Building

Finally. After several delays this $73.4 million renovation project is scheduled to begin next month as remaining personnel in the building relocate to new offices. The building, located just east of the Illini Union on Green Street, has been partially closed since 2010 due to concerns about the structural integrity of the floor in the 1920 addition. (The original building dates to 1892.) Renovation work entails some demolition, removal of hazardous material, updating classrooms, labs and offices.

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Bulldogmojo wrote on June 23, 2014 at 10:06 am

Yup the University has always reserved plenty of money to put up buildings it can't afford to employ people in