What’s Up With: The South Grant Towers?


Sean Reed

The southern Grant Towers sit vacant on Saturday night as the northern Towers light up the surrounding parts of campus. The Grant Towers were built between 1965 and 1966, with the southern Towers most recently having been used for COVID-19 surveillance testing. (Sean Reed | Northern Star)

By Rachel Cormier and Joseph Howerton

Editor’s note: This story is a part of the “What’s Up With?” series. To submit a question for the Northern Star to see, fill out the form here.

DeKALB – A quartet of towers stand resolute between the West Lagoon and Central Park. Grant Towers are four 12-story tall residence halls, but South Towers A and B do not have any residents – their dark outline on the horizon contrasting when their sister buildings light up the night.


The South Grant Towers have remained unused due to a lack of a fire suppression system in either tower when they were constructed in 1965. Remodeling to the conjoined North A and B Towers have allowed them to exist as residence halls.

“All four towers were built in 1965 and 1966, so there was a renovation at the North towers in 2011 and 2013 and as a part of that renovation, they added the fire suppression system to that half of the complex,” said Dan Pedersen, director of NIU Housing and Residential Services.

Plans for renovating the towers and using them as residential housing is not in discussion currently due to the large-scale renovations that would be needed.

In addition to a fire suppression system, Grant Towers A and B are still modeled after the original 1965 designs. Towers C and D present the remodeled designs after 2013 that opened up rooms for more space for the residents.

“They basically took the square footage that used to be three rooms and made them into two rooms so that students had more space in a shared double occupancy room,” Pedersen said. “So, the number of beds that exist in the South Tower A and B right now probably wouldn’t be the same if we renovated it and reopened it.”

In the absence of residents, the Grant South Towers lobby has been used for surveillance testing during COVID as part of the “Protect the Pack” program.

In place of a remodel to the Grant Towers, Pedersen is currently looking at requests to update Neptune West to match most of the utilities on the east side of the complex.

“There are no wholesale complete gutting and renovating of any of our buildings, it would just be modest upgrades like putting air conditioning in the rooms, replacing some of the flooring, and try to do some different things in the bathrooms,” Pedersen said.