UI Board of Trustees announce eight new construction projects


Photo courtesy of Tom Hardy

A conceptual drawing of the future Siebel Center for Design. Construction of the center is scheduled for completion by February 2020.

By Yanchao Zhao, Contributing Writer

The University of Illinois Board of Trustees announced they would advance eight construction projects on the UI campus.

“We are firmly committed to facilities that match the excellence of our faculty and our academic and research programs,” said Tim Killeen, the board-directed president, in a press release. “This capital program will ensure classrooms and laboratories that are leading edge — supporting students and innovation today and for decades to come.”

The eight construction projects in UI will total $235 million. The project times vary, but most of them will be completed within the next few years, said Thomas Hardy, executive director of the Office of University Relations, in an email.

These projects will all be financed without state-appropriated capital funding. Hardy said the sources of the funding include lead gifts from alumni, entrepreneurs and prominent local families, institutional funds, philanthropies and borrowings.

“It has been nearly a decade without a state capital budget from Springfield. This inertia jeopardizes the UI System’s ability to fulfill its multiple missions and to do so with the world-class excellence Illinoisan’s expect,” Hardy said. “The UI has taken it upon itself to fund critical capital projects — classrooms, laboratories, living spaces, etc. — to retain its competitive edge.”

Some of these projects focus on improving research facilities, which includes a $48 million Siebel Center for Design, a $10.3 million renovation and addition to expanding small animal surgery at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital and a $7.8 million upgrade of engineering research facilities at the Talbot Laboratory Building.

Among these projects, the construction of the Siebel Center for Design is one of the biggest.

“The new Siebel Center for Design is one component of a larger cross-campus, multidisciplinary effort to harness the potential of design thinking and design learning in our teaching, research and engagement,” Hardy said.

The Siebel Center for Design will provide 60,000 new square feet of flexible, collaborative learning and idea generating spaces, meeting area, prototyping areas, digital imaging spaces and flexible display/gallery spaces, according to the meeting agenda approved by the Board of Trustees. Construction is scheduled to be completed in February 2020.

“Through this effort, we will channel our students’ outstanding talents to develop expertise, passion and creativity toward issues and lives of consequence,” Hardy said. “Students from across campus and all fields of study will explore ideas and master skills through action — immersing, designing, making, doing.”

Other projects focus on improving the quality and diversity of lives of students and faculties. This includes a $6 million replacement of track and field facilities and $55.5 million in renovations to Townsend and Wardall halls, both of which are located at Illinois Street Residence Halls.

The meeting agenda approved by the Board of Trustees listed what kinds of upgrades would be done to the track and field facilities, which include reorienting the track oval so the stands will be immediately adjacent to the start and finish lines.  

The majority of throwing events will be moved to the infield of the track to provide a better overall experience for the fans. After these constructions, the new track surface and jump event equipment will be state-of-the-art, providing the highest levels of competition and safety.

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