Construction of new academic and residential buildings underway at UIC
July 6, 2018

The University of Illinois at Chicago is planning new facilities for its College of Engineering, enhancing the student experience.

By Nathan Worcester

After a groundbreaking ceremony on January 16, the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) has been building a new ten story residential and academic complex between the Eisenhower Expressway (I-290) and Harrison Street adjacent to the UIC-Halsted Blue Line station and recently renovated Peoria Street bridge.

The tower is part of the university’s 2017-2027 Implementation Plan, which will expand and improve the campus’s capital infrastructure as UIC’s enrollment continues to rise.

As part of the plan, the university has made progress on two engineering buildings. Construction of the new Computing, Design, Research, and Learning Center should begin once the university creates a funding plan for it.

According to David Taeyaerts, associate vice chancellor of learning environments and campus architect at UIC, the university needs donor support to make that building a reality.

The Engineering Innovation Building, however already is underway near Taylor and Morgan Streets and should be completed by summer 2019, when workers finish the new residential and academic complex.

That $100 million complex resulted from a public-private partnership with American Campus Communities Inc., a real estate trust focused on the developing and managing student housing. That company’s 2017 U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) 10-K filing indicates it owned or managed 206 properties with more than 134,000 beds across the United States as of December 31, 2017.

State-of-the-science classrooms will have full electronic capability to enhance learning, and also will be designed for student comfort.

Partnership advantage

“The Public Private Partnership (P3) structure was driven by the State of Illinois’s continued budget challenges combined with decreased funding available,” said American Campus Communities’ vice president for development, Addom Gentner. “The current fiscal environment has reinforced the benefits of P3s throughout the state. The P3 process has delivered the financing, cost efficiency, and speed of delivery demanded by UIC while incorporating all the desired programmatic goals into a remarkable development.”

“This new facility will revitalize campus housing and provide much needed amenities to our students,” said UIC chancellor Michael Amiridis. “By creating innovative public-private partnerships, we are able to address our capital infrastructure needs in the current fiscal environment.”

“The project incorporates over 50,000 square feet of active learning instructional classrooms [and] student collaboration, tutoring, technology, and retail space, along with 548 residential beds,” added Gentner. “It is one of those rare developments with premier design, programming, location, transit, skyline views, and sustainability by achieving LEED Gold.”

LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental design, the green building rating system of the United States Green Building Council.

Residential space will consist of traditional dorm rooms and suites. The last residential space built at UIC was in 2007.

With 16,000 square feet of shared spaces, it will offer lounges for studying and student interaction, offices, laundry rooms, a fitness center, a tenth floor sky lounge, and 1,600 feet of retail space that will include a coffee shop.

Taeyaerts said the new tower’s academic space will hold general use classrooms.

Better for students

“This building in particular falls under the [master plan] goal of enriching student experience,” said Taeyaerts. “It’s meant to encourage students and faculty to linger and stay on in the building and form connections that help with the retention and graduation rates of the college.

“UIC is really trying to figure out how the physical campus can help make its strategic priorities happen,” added Taeyerts, referring to the strategic priorities that UIC’s master plan’s goals aims to reinforce. “We’re building new facilities to recruit new faculty members and to give them the best-in-class facilities in order to do their research. And we’re also looking at new teaching spaces so the faculty members can be teaching with the latest pedagogies and enhance student success.”

According to Taeyerts, UIC is also prioritizing “student experience in resident halls and giving them new facilities that are in line with student expectations. They all complement each other. You need to address faculty needs, student experience needs, and teaching needs in order to be successful with these enrollment goals.”

Daniel Egan, a spokesperson for Alderman Daniel Solis (25th Ward), said, “Alderman Solis is thrilled UIC is one of Illinois’s only universities that is expanding, and he looks forward to working with them and the community to grow smartly and responsibly. Our office maintains a strong relationship with UIC and will continue to work with them as they implement the 2017-2027 master plan.”

For information about American Campus Communities, log on to www.americancampus.com. For more about UIC, log on to www.uic.edu.