UI reveals timeline for Illini Hall, Altgeld project


Illini Hall was built in 1939 and is currently occupied by the mathematics department. Illini Hall and Altgeld Hall are in the process of being renovated, with demolition beginning on Ilini Hall in fall 2020.

By Olivia Welshans, Staff writer

The University is proceeding with plans to amplify its scholarship and leadership in mathematics by constructing a new building on the site of Illini Hall by 2022 and renovating Altgeld Hall by 2024.

The University is negotiating an architect contract for the almost $100 million project, which will hopefully be signed by spring of this year, said Derek Fultz, director of facilities for LAS.

“Illini Hall and Altgeld Hall house the Departments of Statistics and Mathematics, two of the fastest growing and dynamic units within LAS,” Fultz said. “It is our hope that this project will enhance the opportunities for students within these departments, and also the large number of students from across campus that they serve.”

Fultz said funding for the project is being provided by Illinois through the Discovery Partners Institute, the Academic Facilities Maintenance Fund Assessment and donor commitments. The University is also putting forward funding.

“The two buildings are being managed as one project and will be funded as one project,” Fultz said.

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The new building will be constructed in the place of Illini Hall, which was built in 1907 and has served as the location of the University YMCA, the Student Union and, at one point, the offices of The Daily Illini and The Illio. The hall will be demolished beginning in fall 2020.

The new building will include advanced classrooms and research facilities focused on education and obtaining knowledge through mathematics, statistics, data analysis and machine learning, according to the University’s “Request for Professional Services Consultant” document.

The renovation of Altgeld Hall will begin after construction of the new building is complete.

The project’s goal is to completely restore Altgeld Hall, including state-of-the-art classrooms, collaborative work spaces, administrative offices and support spaces for the Departments of Mathematics and Statistics.

Sheldon Katz, the dean’s special adviser and project lead, said they want the building to be designed to promote interaction.

“Employers want students who have experience working in teams,” Katz said. “When people work together on new discoveries, it is easier when they have spaces to do that, and Altgeld Hall was not designed for collaboration.”

Altgeld Hall, built in 1897, is the second-oldest building on campus and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The architect will work with the Illinois State Historic Preservation Office to identify the historic elements of the building that need to be preserved, Katz said.

Katz said the Mathematics Library, with its many historic elements, murals, dome and the grand entryway are some of the building’s features the college is looking to preserve.

“The architects will be looking for ways to go ahead and enhance those spaces, while making them more useful,” Katz said.

Jeremy Tyson, Department of Mathematics chair, said the project will also improve accessibility to Altgeld Hall. There are plans to provide access to all areas of the building and minimize the number of separate elevations.

“This landmark project will enable the University of Illinois Department of Mathematics to continue to be a national leader in scholarship, teaching and public engagement throughout the 21st century,” Tyson said.

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