Alumni Center, Christopher Hall to be completed by school year’s end

By Susan Kantor

Before the end of the 2005-2006 school year, Lincoln Avenue will tentatively have two new additions. The Alice Campbell Alumni Center and the Doris Kelley Christopher Hall are currently under construction.

The Alumni Center will be a gathering place for returning alumni, near the corner of Lincoln Avenue and Illinois Street, and Christopher Hall will be the home base for research and education on family structure.

“The Alumni Center is basically a central location, near the gateway and the administration building, that the alumni can call home,” said Lynn Chaney, associate director for Outreach Initiatives and Special Projects for the Alumni Association.

Taking two years to complete, the $16 million project will be completely funded by gifts contributed mostly from alumni. Alumni Robert C. and Alice Curtis Campbell have given considerable contributions to the project.

Chaney said the new Alumni Center is “designed to serve as a home for all alumni, both present and future.”

The Alumni Center will also cater to faculty and students.

“This building will provide alumni a gathering place to serve as a home away from home,” said Loren R. Taylor, president and CEO of the Alumni Association. “For the first time, alumni will have a central location to reunite and reminisce, to interact with students and faculty, and to proudly show their loyalty and support for the University.”

The building will include a lounge, library, exhibit of previously archived Illini artifacts, gardens, patios and a banquet hall. The building will also house the business office, containing alumni data and accounting information.

“It is fantastic that alumni can have a beautiful facility to give programs that alumni really care about,” said Chaney.

Construction is expected to be complete next February. Alumni Association staff members are scheduled to move into their new offices in April, and the grand opening is planned for Commencement weekend in May.

Further south on Lincoln Avenue, the Doris Kelley Christopher Hall will soon contain the Pampered Chef Family Resiliency Center, part of the University’s Department of Human and Community Development. Doris Kelley Christopher initiated the Pampered Chef Family Resiliency Program, named after the Pampered Chef Company. Christopher’s goal in creating the company was to sell kitchen tools to promote families eating together.

The program’s main focus is to research families and how they can become more resilient against the demands of modern life. The program also educates and supports public involvement on related issues.

Diane Marlin, coordinator of research programs for Department of Human and Community Development, said it is described as “a place for research, offices, project spaces and resources for the community.”

The Family Information Facility will also be located at Christopher Hall to allow community families to directly access resources to reinforce traditional family structure. One of the focal points of the new building is the Family Observation Suite, created to simulate a real home. This space will be used for researchers to observe families in a natural habitat.

“Designed by Booth Hansen Architects of Chicago, it has a more traditional exterior and a contemporary interior,” Marlin said. “Its prominent feature will be an atrium with a domed skylight. The light will flood into the surroundings areas.”

The opening of Doris Kelley Christopher Hall is scheduled for March.

The opening of Christopher Hall is greatly anticipated; two guest speakers and a conference are already scheduled to take place in the facility.

“It will be a place for people from the campus community and the greater community to collaborate and work together on projects of importance to families,” said Marlin on Christopher Hall.