Res. halls, parking lots get summer facelift

Construction continued Monday on the parking lot at the corner of Lucinda and Garden Avenue.

By Ali Combs

Structural improvements are being made across campus, from major renovations like Gilbert Hall’s to smaller improvements like better parking lot lighting.

According the NIU’s website, there are 64 major buildings on the main NIU campus in DeKalb. The majority of those buildings are undergoing improvements, much of which is part of the Vision 2020 Initiative set forth by NIU’s former president, John Peters.

One of the biggest improvements being made on campus is the renovation of Gilbert Hall. The building has been completely remodeled, from basement to roof, making it back into a residence hall, set to open this fall. Many of Gilbert’s residents will be visual and performing arts students due to its proximity to Jack Arends Hall and the Music Building.

NIU President Doug Baker said he’s excited for the improvements around campus. The new Gilbert Hall has a “college feel,” especially in the area outside with patio tables and open grass, he said.

Gilbert Hall was a residence hall until 1995. Since then, it has mostly only housed some offices, said Paul Palian, director of Media and Public Relations.

The newly remodeled residence hall, which is more than half a century old, will now offer a dining hall open to all students, faculty and staff. The Gilbert dining hall will be the only one of the east end of campus, something the university needs, Palian said.

In addition to the new housing option at Gilbert Hall, Grant Residence Hall Tower D will reopen in the fall after undergoing major renovation. The newly renovated tower will have many of the same amenities as the recently remodeled Tower C, like Wi-Fi, moveable furniture and individual temperature controls for each room. Palian said roofs are being improved around campus, too.

“They’re actually recycling the reusable parts from other buildings to improve roofs on buildings that really need it,” Palian said.

The Neptune Residence Hall roof will be repaired with slate salvaged from Gilbert Hall’s renovation. The roofs on Zulauf, Montgomery, Jack Arends Hall and the Music Library are all being replaced, as well.

In addition to building improvements, a new parking lot is being constructed at the corner of Garden Road and Lucinda Avenue. Other parking lots around campus are seeing improvements: The parking garage on Normal Road was closed for construction in the beginning of the summer, while parking lot C on Lucinda Avenue is receiving improved lighting.

According to the campus improvements Web page, electrical infrastructure and pedestrian walkways are being updated campuswide, too.

The MLK Commons has seen some unique updates this summer, unlike the others around campus, Palian said.

“You may have seen trucks cutting down trees in the MLK Commons,” he said. “They had been infested with emerald ash bore bugs, so we took care of that.”

According to the Vision 2020 plan, all residential improvements in the “Residential Renaissance” portion of the initiative should be done by next year. About 70 percent of those improvements will be done this fall.