Lincoln Hall project in gear

Broken+tile+covers+the+third-floor+hallway+of+Lincoln+Hall.+Renovations+for+the+building+are+scheduled+to+begin+in+fall+2008.+Erica+Magda%0A

Broken tile covers the third-floor hallway of Lincoln Hall. Renovations for the building are scheduled to begin in fall 2008. Erica Magda

By Eric Heisig

A long-awaited project for the University is set to begin next summer. Teachers, faculty and staff will move out of Lincoln Hall, 702 S. Wright St., with building renovations planned to begin fall 2008.

According to Linda Katehi, provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs, the project includes drastic changes on the inside of the building, as well as upgrading the building to make it more environmentally friendly. The renovations are slated to take two to three years to complete.

“While this may prove an inconvenience, this is a dream come true for all of us,” Katehi said.

The project is going to cost about $70 million, Katehi said, and most of this money should be coming from the state.

“The state has promised they are going to fund it,” Katehi said. “Even though the state budget has not been finalized, we thought we needed to make a decision to move forward (with the project).”

According to information from Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s office, the money for this project will come from a proposed capital budget, a budget for long-term projects such as construction or repairs. In the 2008 capital budget proposed by Blagojevich, the University will receive $55 million for renovations for Lincoln Hall.

Rick Schoell, executive director for governmental relations, said the University has not received funds from the state for projects such as these for a few years, due to the lack of a capital budget.

“We haven’t had a state capital bill for many years,” Schoell said. “We have been confronting them and are hopeful that the governor and state Legislature will provide a capital budget for the state this year.”

Katehi said the state should be deciding on all this within the next month.

Still, while the University has not received any funds from the capital budget yet, Katehi said the project has been planned like this so it will not be delayed any further. If the project was delayed until next semester, she said there would not be enough time to plan, and Lincoln Hall renovations would have to be delayed another year.

“The University has made a commitment, and it will move forward,” Katehi said. “It may put campus in a difficult financial decision, but it’s a decision we’ve made.”

Terry Ruprecht, director of energy conservation for Academic Affairs, said the construction in the building will be required to meet certain standards for being environmental friendly.

“In the process are construction standards that any renovation over $5 million will comply with LEED (The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), Silver standards,” Ruprecht said.

The standards for LEED are designed to provide state-of-the-art features and programs for energy efficiency in new and existing buildings. Ruprecht said there are many levels to the LEED program, including Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum. The higher the standard, the more energy efficient the building will be, but the features will also cost more.