Gilbert Hall to reopen with new accommodations


Gilbert Hall sits vacant September 26, 2012 during a re-construction phase during the 2012-2013 school year.

By Kathleen Hauge

After 18 years, the doors of Gilbert Hall will re-open fall 2013.

As a part of the Vision 2020 initiative, President John Peters has announced Gilbert Hall will be renovated to become a residence hall once again.

“It’s a lot of work inside and out,” said Michael Stang, Housing and Dining executive director.

Gilbert Hall opened in 1952 and served as an all-male residence hall. In 1995, Gilbert Hall was closed despite student protests, according to a Feb. 27, 2011, Northern Star article. NIU administrators announced that Gilbert Hall would be closed after the spring semester and reopen as “swing space” for offices, according to a June 20, 1995, Northern Star article. Various offices were housed in the first floor of the building but the upper levels remained vacant. As Gilbert Hall switches back to a residence, that should change.

Because of the age of Gilbert Hall, construction crews have gutted the inside of the building to replace the 60-year-old plumbing, ventilation, heating, roof and electricity, according to the New Northern Lifestyle website. Air conditioning will also be added to accommodate students in the warmer months.

Gilbert Hall will be able to house 300 students in double and single rooms. Students will be able to use private bathrooms like those in the New Residence Hall Complex. Like the new residence hall, Gilbert Hall will feature a recreation center that is only accessible to residents.

Various dining facilities, like a coffee stand, will be available for students and faculty. A dining facility will feature an outdoor patio for eating and recreation.

Stang said he believes juniors and seniors will want to live in Gilbert Hall because of its location at the east side of campus. The residence hall may also attract students from business, engineering, fine arts, law and social science.

“We want students to not worry about finding off-campus housing on the east end,” Stang said. “At Gilbert Hall they can get a good breakfast, and be in walking distance from campus buildings.”

Law graduate student Autumn Knight said she thinks Gilbert Hall will be great for law students because it is close to the law school.

“There is very limited choices when it comes to housing by the law school,” Knight said.