Lincoln Hall to get green with renovations

Plans for the restoration of Lincoln Hall included a green future and an emphasis on academics.

The Lincoln Hall restoration ceremony held Friday detailed plans for the renovation of the historic building, which included means for sustainability and ways of maintaining its historical and academic significance.

The use of energy-efficient lighting, water-saving plumbing fixtures and materials made out of high recycled content are a few of the green changes the project design team has decided to implement in the near future.

Ron Harrison, project architect and University alum, explained the need for the sustainable preservation of Lincoln Hall.

“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,” Harrison said.

With a partnership involving the U.S. Green Building Council, the project design team has a set of sustainable and green standards to follow.

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

The project design team has specific changes in mind for the building: deepening the basements, utilizing the fourth floor attic, installing skylights, creating more lobby space, concealing an elevator for accessibility and attaining a space for a cafe lounge.

By adhering to the green standards set by the U.S. Green Building Council, refurbishing Lincoln Hall will help emphasize the importance of higher education, said Ruth Watkins, dean of LAS.

“We know that the quality of the learning environment makes a difference,” Watkins said. “[The] 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 1929, Watkins added. The major renovations were completed just before the stock market crash, before World War II and around the time of the Great Depression.

Students from LAS Leaders, a campus group of liberal arts and sciences students that help coordinate alumni activities, also emphasized the importance of the changes. Megan Cleary, group member and freshman in LAS, iterated the ties many people have 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.”

Chancellor Richard Herman, who spoke at the ceremony, stressed the vitality of the building for students. Exactly 17,642 students in one recent fall semester took classes within Lincoln Hall, he said.

“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 generations of Illinois students, he added.

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

Harrison added that it is not enough to preserve and restore the building; he wants to make it better and enhance it for the future.

The ceremony concluded with attendees donating shiny, bronze pennies to be incorporated into the structure of the renovated Lincoln Hall and to bring a little good luck for future students.

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