The University of Illinois has taken a significant step toward breaking ground on the Altgeld and Illini Hall Project, with architects recently submitting conceptual designs for the plan to modernize and expand spaces devoted to data science and other mathematical sciences.
Campus officials are now creating schematic designs for the infrastructure project, which includes renovating Altgeld Hall and constructing a new building on the site of Illini Hall. Campus plans to bring the proposed schematic design—an overall visualization of the project—before the Board of Trustees in March for approval, said Derek Fultz, director of facilities for the College of LAS.
Once the design is approved by the Board of Trustees, architects will begin creating more detailed construction blueprints for the project. Campus officials expect the new building to be complete by 2023, and for Altgeld Hall to be renovated by 2025.
“Schematic design began last week,” said Sheldon Katz, professor of mathematics, who is also serving as a coordinator and special advisor on the project. “This is an exciting new phase of our process, in which we are refining our vision for student, faculty, and classroom spaces, along with other floor plans.”
The new building will be an advanced classroom and research facility focused on creating knowledge through mathematics, statistics, data science, and machine learning. The departments of Mathematics and Statistics will use space in the new building. The Altgeld Hall renovation will preserve historic features while increasing energy efficiency, improving accessibility, and creating state-of-the-art classroom space for the thousands of students who take classes there each semester.
The estimated cost of the project has grown to $188 million, with the dollars to come from a mix of state funds, private and corporate donors, and campus funds.
Fultz said that the growing scope of the project is being driven by a couple of factors. The architectural firms, CannonDesign and Baily Edward, have completed extensive analysis of Altgeld Hall during the past few months, and they have a more clear idea of the work that will be required for the renovation.
Also, to accommodate plans for the new data science center and the growing needs of the departments of Mathematics and Statistics, planners are proposing that the size of the new building should be increased from four floors to six floors.
Feng Sheng Hu, the Harry E. Preble Dean of the College of LAS, said that the renovated Altgeld Hall and the new data science building will enhance learning and research for years to come.
“The Altgeld and Illini Hall project is one of the most significant infrastructure projects ever undertaken on campus,” Hu said. “We are being extremely careful, thoughtful, and prudent as we move forward. It is critical to the future of Illinois to be a leader in these fields.”
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