Plans to demolish Illini Orange passed

By Lisa Chung

Talk of replacing the Illini Orange, 301 E. Gregory Dr., with newer facilities has been in the works for as long as some can remember. Now, it will be actually be torn down this summer with the Board of Trustee’s approval of beginning a $75.7 million project.

In its place the environment-friendly Student Dining and Residential Programs Building, and the first wing of a new residence hall, will be constructed.

The buildings are set to be completed in the winter of 2009, but that date is subject to change depending on how everything falls into place, said Peter Maass, a project manager for the University Facilities and Services.

The multi-phase project will ultimately build “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design” certified facilities to replace all of the Gregory and Peabody Drive Residence Halls, excluding Barton and Lundgren.

This program is a comprehensive green building rating system that allows people to measure different efficiencies of a building, said Matthew Malten, the University’s sustainability coordinator.

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The Student Dining and Residential Programs Building will replace the Gregory and Peabody Drive dining areas, and the tunnels beneath them, Maas said.

“When (the Student Dining and Residential Programs Building) opens, it will be the largest dining centers on a campus in the United States,” said Kirsten Ruby, assistant director of housing for marketing.

Along with a 1,200-seat Marketplace, there will be a 24-hour Emporium that will provide dine-in or carry-out service, and Coffeehouse that will offer specialty drinks, Maass said.

With all residences dining in one main cafeteria, overcrowding was a factor looked into while designing the new building.

Maass, along with others, traveled to comparable universities, such as Purdue University, that used similar dining hall concepts to do research.

“(After) working with food service consultants, we are able to feel comfortable that we can handle that (many students),” Maass said. “(The space) is colossal, but I’m sure there will be a learning curve here and there.”

The second floor of the new building will provide more seating, hold residential programs spaces, seminar spaces, individual offices, music practice rooms and a multimedia space.

The Student Dining and Residential Programs Building will connect to the new residence halls. The Board has approved one wing of the residence hall thus far.

“One of the reasons why this project was approved was because of Beckwith (Hall), and the need to put Beckwith students in a safer environment,” Maass said. “This building is very much designed around (Beckwith residents) and the very special needs they have.”

Beckwith Hall is currently the home of students with disabilities who require assistance in daily living. When the new residence hall is completed, all Beckwith residences will be moved into the new hall, Ruby said.