School’s out, work’s in: Highlights of UI’s summer construction

School is out, and with a relatively dry May, the summer construction season is already in high gear on campus.

More than 50 improvement projects totaling tens of millions of dollars are scheduled between now and mid-August, when University of Illinois students return.

They range from big-ticket items — completion of the $55 million renovation of Everitt Laboratory and ongoing work on the $79.2 million football performance facility — to smaller projects, such as a long-awaited solar roof for the Electrical and Computer Engineering Building, classroom and laboratory modernizations, and new carpeting for the suites at Memorial Stadium.

Here are a few highlights.


Cost: $55 million

Opening soon: A new, larger home for the Department of Bioengineering, a key component of the Carle Illinois College of Medicine.

The former electrical engineering lab at Wright and Green streets in Champaign has undergone a two-year, top-to-bottom renovation and will be ready for the department after the final landscaping and site work wrap up in June.

Part of the Grainger Engineering Breakthroughs Initiative, the renovation project added 11,000 square feet of new research areas and support space, upgrades to the plumbing, electrical and heating/air-conditioning systems, a new roof, windows and doors, and exterior brick and stone work.


Cost: $1.1 million

The new Electrical and Computer Engineering building (306 N. Wright St.), which opened in 2014, will finally get its solar roof.

The work was initially part of the $95 million construction of the state-of-the-art building, which is designed for “net zero” energy use. But state funding for that piece was delayed, and the department is now funding the project, said Sandy Yoo, interim associate director of project management for campus capital programs.

Bids will go out in a month or two and construction will follow, she said. The work involves reinforcing steel supports for the rooftop solar array and installation of the panels themselves. The project will wrap up in late 2018 or early 2019.


Cost: $77.5 million

The project will expand the dining area by nearly 36,000 square feet to serve 1,179 residents, plus visitors, and provide larger meeting rooms, group study areas, recreation and library spaces. Construction is expected to last two years.

In the meantime students at ISR will eat in temporary dining facilities at the Illini Union, using the existing ballroom, Colonial Room and Room 104 for dining areas. Some new equipment is also being added to the kitchen, and a loading dock outside will be replaced with a wider version, to tie into MCORE work out front.


Cost: $5.9 million

The foundation is already in place for the modern glass-and-brick building going up at 708 S. Mathews Ave., U, that serves as a gathering place for African-American students on campus.

The old center, originally built as a house, was closed in spring 2014 for safety reasons, and the cultural center was moved to temporary quarters in a campus recreation building across town in Champaign.

The new building will include offices, a conference room, kitchen, music/dance room, computer lab and social gathering space. The hope is to have the building fully enclosed by the end of 2018.


Cost: $20.6 million

The pool inside the 1968 addition to Freer Hall (906 S. Goodwin Ave.) has been demolished to make way for an infill project that will provide nearly 20,000 square feet of research, teaching and administrative space. Demolition of adjacent spaces is scheduled to wrap up in early June.

Construction will follow, in phases, with the first completed by early 2019 and the remainder by the following summer, Loo said. Contractors came across some “structural unknowns” that led to delays, including columns that weren’t shown in the blueprints, so designs had to be revised, she said.The pool for years was home to the University Laboratory High School girls’ swim team, regular lap swimmers and the UI’s learn-to-swim clinics.


Cost: $48 million

The ceremonial groundbreaking for the student design hub was in April, but contractors hope to start construction by midsummer, Loo said.

The goal is to have the basic structure up and enclosed by late 2018 or early 2019, with a project completion date of early 2020, she said.

The 60,000-square-foot building, just south of Huff Hall, will include five team-based collaboration studios for up to 400 students; workshops for 3-D printing, metal fabrication, laser cutting, water-jet cutting and computer-controlled machining; two digital media studios supporting video and audio recording and virtual reality applications; and public gathering spaces, meeting rooms and galleries to encourage informal interaction.


Cost: $79.2 million

Work on the foundation and structural steel is already under way for the new 107,000-square-foot building at the northeast corner of Memorial Stadium, adjacent to the Irwin Indoor Practice Facility.

It will provide new football team rooms, locker rooms, a sports medicine area, strength training areas and offices.

Construction is scheduled to be completed before the 2019 football season. The project is to be funded by athletic donations.


Memorial Stadium: Carpeting in the Colonnades Room, media room, suites, premium seating and other areas will be replaced on the stadium’s west side. Cost: $650,000. Masronry repairs will also continue on the west side parapet. Cost: $375,000.

State Farm Center: Theatrical lighting and a lighting control board will be replaced, allowing all of the lighting to function as a cohesive unit. A $170 million renovation was just completed last year.

Atkins Tennis Center: A new scoreboard, networked with individual scoreboards, will replace the 26-year-old scoreboard now in use, along with new software and control panels, an expanded power supply and a control room closet. Cost: $350,000. New high-efficiency LED lighting will also be installed to meet Big Ten requirements for event lighting. Cost: $350,000.

Eichelberger Field/Martin Softball Complex: Artificial turf will replace the turf and grass areas in the infield, along the baselines and behind home place, to provide more durability. Cost: $86,000.

Demirjian Indoor Golf Facility: LED lighting will replace existing lights in the large putting/chipping area and smaller surrounding rooms, for greater efficiency and reduced maintenance. Cost: $65,000.

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