Ceremony held to mark restoration of Lincoln Hall

Detailed the plans for the renovation of Lincoln Hall were revealed at a ceremony on Friday.

Preservation plans for the historic building focus on allowing it a sustainable and green future, while also maintaining its historical and academic significance.

“Sustainability is kind of first and foremost in our thoughts these days in our industry. And it’s becoming a bigger consensus in the world these days,”said Ron Harrison, project architect and alumnus of the University. “Three hundred and fifty is the number of parts per million of carbon that scientists have determined is the critical point at which we can be sustained. We are currently at 87 parts per million and growing every year.”

The project design team has partnered with the U.S. Green Building Councila to set sustainable and green standards for the construction. The goal is to be as green as possible, Harrison said.

“Basically anything we put in, we want it be as green as possible,” Harrison added.

This green promise includes energy efficient lighting, water-saving plumbing fixtures and the use of materials made out of high recycled content.

Besides putting green standards in place, construction on Lincoln Hall will focus on its broader importance for higher education.

“We know that the quality of the learning environment makes a difference,” said Ruth Watkins, dean of LAS. “It will be a source of great pride because its restored building will be a statement by this campus and the state of Illinois of the high value we place on higher education.”

The last time Lincoln Hall underwent renovations was in the 1929. These major renovations were completed just before the stock market crash, before World War II and around the time of the Great Depression.

“Education is both a privilege and a responsibility and all those who walk through the doors of Lincoln Hall should have been able to feel that sense of greater purpose,” Watkins said.

Student leaders from LAS also emphasized the importance of change. Megan Cleary, freshman in LAS, said many people have ties to the building.

“On the bright side, it’s good to have change sometimes,” Cleary said. “I’ve just heard a lot of people really love the hall.”

In one recent semester, almost 18,000 students took classes in Lincoln Hall, said Chancellor Richard Herman during his opening remarks. Rubbing the nose of Lincoln has also become a continued tradition for luck on exams, Herman added.

“I have always thought of this building as the heartbeat of this great university,” Herman said. “It represents the liberal arts education we offer the sons and daughters of Illinois.”

Lincoln Hall serves as a memory to the achievements of Lincoln’s life and continues to inspire future generation of Illinois students, added Herman.

Deepening the basements, recapturing the fourth floor attic, putting skylights in the building, creating more lobby space, concealing an elevator for accessibility, and attaining a space for a cafe lounge includes just a few of the changes within Lincoln Hall.

“This building has architectural and historical significance of the highest caliber,” said Harrison. “It’s also an important piece on the quadrangle here. If this was not here, it would be like a missing tooth.”

It is not enough to preserve and restore this building, Harrison said. It must be enhanced for the future, he added.

The ceremony concluded with the donation of shiny, bronze pennies to be incorporated into the inspiring structure of the new Lincoln Hall and to bring good luck.

“We appreciate that passion for what we all hope to see happen with Lincoln hall,” Watkins said during her closing remarks. “Respecting history, working for a sustainable future, and providing a first-rate learning environment for all students.”