Project encourages student involvement

By Christine Won

The Tunnel Vision project held its ribbon cutting ceremony Friday morning, dedicating the link connecting the Undergraduate Library and the Main Library to the students and faculty members who contributed to the project.

“The project represented an enormous effort to pull together various talents from across the campus,” Chancellor Richard Herman said after the ceremony. “Most importantly, the project was, in many ways, led by the students.”

Amy Teckenbrock, graduate student, was one of the students involved with Tunnel Vision project since its birth.

Alexander Fekete, University professor of industrial design, said Teckenbrock’s group had come up with the original idea of the seating arrangements in the tunnel, addressing one of the three biggest issues the project was designed to solve.

“The original tunnel was quite drab and the lighting was making everything look green,” Fekete said. “We focused on three things to fix. We wanted exciting light, casual landscape furniture, and to encourage interaction.”

The old tunnel also violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, Fekete said.

In his speech, Chancellor Herman said Brett Mense, alumnus of the University and former member of the Illinois Student Government, came to the Chancellor’s office in the summer of 2002, wanting to improve the library tunnel space that hadn’t been renovated since its construction in the late 1960s.

The Office of the Chancellor brought the project idea before Fekete and University architecture professor Jeffery Poss.

In the fall semester of 2003, Poss and Fekete assigned eight teams consisting of four to five students to brainstorm different designs.

From the eight designs, the professors picked two ideas with the strongest components – one was Teckenbrock’s group’s seating arrangement idea, and another was an orange and blue color scheme.

Fekete said the color scheme originally was not chosen because they were University colors, but they were based on the group’s research.

He said the students who researched the color scheme discovered that orange, a “happy” color could induce food consumption, so the end of the tunnel with the vending machines was orange. Then the students chose blue for the other end because it was said to be a “calm” color.

But Fekete said in the end, the current tunnel happened to depict a variety of shades of orange and blue, reflecting the University’s colors.

“The goal of the Tunnel Vision project was to take this space connecting the Undergraduate and Main libraries, and transform it into a place for students to enjoy,” Teckenbrock said.

Fekete said the renovated tunnel, nicknamed the “un-library”, already seems be a success. Fekete showed a slideshow of students rehearsing a presentation in the mini-amphitheater set up in the tunnel.

Victor Jimenez, senior in FAA who also contributed to the project, said the usefulness of the tunnel would be more apparent during the winter when students will be more inclined to travel inside.

“It’s exciting to see the project come full circle from the drafting board on to the construction,” Jimenez said. “It’d be nice to see more of these projects and increase student interaction on campus. It was great to see the support from the Chancellor’s Office.”

According to Herman, they raised about $100,000 for the project from different gift funds.

“The purpose of my office is to respond to good ideas,” Herman said.

Kristine Campbell, coordinator of research at the Office of Public Affairs at the University, said the Tunnel Vision project was unique in that it was a collaboration of students, the facility services, class projects and administration.

“The ceremony was to dedicate it to the students and the faculty who’s been involved with the project,” Campbell said.

Herman, Teckenbrock and Jimenez cut the ribbon together at the end of the ceremony.