Wings may open soon for Stevens Building

By James Krause

DeKALB — The potential completion date for the Stevens building is set for the spring semester, though there is a new possibility for two wings of the building to be opened sooner.

The redesign of the Stevens Building, located near Cole Hall in University Circle, includes the revamping of an existing wing of Stevens as well as the addition of a wing, a black box theatre and a scene shop, a workshop for theatre students to work on props and sets. The project has been in development since 2010 and under construction since 2012.

John Heckmann, associate president of Facility Management and Campus Services, said the two wings of the building are closest to completion and the chances of those wings being opened for occupation will depend on the completion of systems in the building like air conditioning and heating.

“I’m still being a little vague as to what that final completion date is because we are still dealing with a lot of issues that the contractor has to contend with, as we had that yearlong delay back in [Fiscal Year 2016] and the short delay this past summer as we worked through state budget issues,” Heckmann said.

The project was delayed from June 2015 to July 2016 because of a state budget impasse that halted the disbursement of state funding to the university. The project was originally authorized by former Gov. Pat Quinn in January 2012 and is being managed by the Illinois Capital Development Board.

Heckmann said the new building will be an “exciting” opportunity for the School of Theatre and Dance and Anthropology Department.

“It’s exciting because we are going to get a nice, refurbished, improved facility,” Heckmann said. “I hope it’s going to be something that draws in the community and the rest of the students around campus and brings some excitement.”

Anthropology Department Chairperson Kendall Thu said the department’s faculty is excited for the new building and hopes to use it as a platform to bring anthropology students to NIU.

“The Department of Anthropology is very much looking forward to using [the Stevens building] as a recruiting tool,” Thu said. “We’re excited for the Stevens Building to be something that is good for Theatre and Anthropology, but it’s also a shot in the arm for the entire university.”

The anthropology faculty are also looking forward to moving to the renovated space, as Thu said it is to include multi-purpose rooms, rooms for guest speakers and storage areas. The Anthropology Department is temporarily located in Grant Tower on the outskirts of campus by Lorusso Lagoon.

“We’re excited about getting out of Grant Tower where we are currently located,” Thu said. “It’s a seventies style dorm room and located on the margins of campus. Getting back into new space with a central location and being a part of campus again is exciting.”