Project completions pave way for future construction to begin at U of I



By Michael Logli

Incoming freshmen may wonder why there are so many construction and renovation projects on campus, but the truth is some projects have yet to be started.

Plans to renovate Assembly Hall have been in the works since last year when Renee Romano, vice chancellor for student affairs, and Kevin Ullestad, director of Assembly Hall, announced their plans to the Illinois Student Senate.

However, no date has been set for work to begin. In fact, Mike DeLorenzo, associate vice chancellor for student affairs and director of auxiliary services, said the plans have not been finished yet either. The University is still running tests on the structural integrity of the building, but these tests should be finished by the end of the month.

“There’s still some testing to be done structurally,” DeLorenzo said. “We have no idea what will happen.”

Any renovations on Assembly Hall will be done in coordination with the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics, which will help cover the costs of the renovation and keep the financial burden from falling on students. Although the exact cost of the renovation is still unknown, DeLorenzo said both organizations still plan to make the building accessible enough to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 while updating the air conditioning system.

The University is also building the Ikenberry Hall, the new resident hall complex and dining hall located at the corner of Gregory Drive and Euclid Street in Champaign. When finished, the dining hall will hold 1,200 people. The resident halls, which are replacing the old residence halls commonly referred to as the Six-Pack, will hold 3,000 students. Though the project still has another 10 to 15 years, the University will begin to replace residence halls in the spring of 2010, DeLorenzo said.

The new Activities and Recreation Center, once called the IMPE, opened Thursday after two years of construction. To accommodate the large student body, the building is triple the size of Campus Recreation Center East and features a climbing wall, an indoor and outdoor pool and other amenities.

“It’s going to be worth the wait,” said John Joya, senior in LAS and Division of Campus Recreation employee.

Joya said the added space will allow patrons more room to work out, which will create more breathing room. He said he he has gotten lost a few times in the building while working in it because of its size. The University has also invested millions of dollars in weights and cardiovascular machines to enhance the workout experience, Joya said.