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."