Illini Orange teardown set to begin in July

By Brittney Foreman

Almost 16 orange and white signs which read: “Goodbye to the Orange, Hello to a Brand New Building,” cover the windows of the Illini Orange, previously a meeting ground for residential leadership groups. The snackbar, another name for the Illini Orange, will be demolished by the end of July said Cory Anderson, Communications Coordinator of Facilities and Services.

“I’m kind (of) sad to see it go,” said George West, president of the Central Black Student Union.

“I’ll just miss the space, but I can see why there’s a need to tear it down,” said West, who will be a junior in LAS in the fall. “There’s a need for … more efficient housing.”

The Illini Orange, once a meeting ground, McDonalds and postage stamp station in its recent years sits on the corner of Gregory Drive and Third Street with chopped-down tree trunks on the ground on the building’s south side. Inside, wires hang from the ceiling where tiles are missing, and plaster covers the floor. The snackbar, which is about 47 years old, will soon be gone.

In place of the Illini Orange will be a student dining and residential programs building, said Kirsten Ruby, assistant director of housing for marketing. This building will then be linked to a residence hall wing that will house about 150 people, including residents who live in Beckwith Hall, a University housing building that serves students with disabilities, Ruby said.

The new building is scheduled to open for the 2009-2010 school year and will replace the Peabody and Gregory Drive dining halls, according to the Housing Web site. The anticipated start date of construction of the new facility is spring 2008, Anderson said.

“To be honest, the (Illini) Orange was not used … that well,” West said. He said that students were not making the most of the meeting space.

West, who served as part of the student leadership coalition for the 2006-2007 school year, which is comprised of students in the major housing organizations, said they were asked for their input on the new facilities that will eventually replace the whole six pack. West said it is a 20 to 25 year project.

The current blueprint of the new dining and residential programs building shows five stations allowing students to choose from a pizza and pasta bar, a soup, deli, salad and dessert bar, a burritos, fajitas and quesadillas station, a smoothie and coffee bar, a breakfast bar, and a made-to-order station. There are also two separate beverages stations.

Inside the building there will also be a learning center with study spaces and computer terminals, and multipurpose and recreational rooms. The building will be the central location for Housing’s student organizations, which the Illini Orange served as previously.

While the area is under construction, student groups will have to move their meetings to other areas on campus. West said that organizations like Men of Impact, the Asian American Student Housing Organization, UNFAS- the Latino/a student organization, and others, were granted access to the Illini Orange and the resources inside.

West said the resources, such as the computer lab, copy machine, poster board and almost anything else they needed, will be located in the LAR basement next year. He anticipates that for the 2007-2008 school year, CBSU meetings will be moved to either Clark Hall or the LAR main lounge.

As well as student groups having to relocate, MTD buses will have to reroute their bus stops, said Tom Costello, assistant managing director for the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District. Costello said they are currently in the process of figuring out the new routes and stops for the 26 pack, which should be the only route affected.

West said the new housing and spaces available for use will have a positive impact on the University campus.

“Even though (the Illini Orange) is going away, something bigger and better will be built in its place,” West said.