Construction on Cole Hall is underway

By Jacqueline Evans

DeKALB | The remodeling of Cole Hall officially began on Friday, almost three years after the Feb. 14 shooting.

Nearly a year ago, Gov. Pat Quinn visited NIU to announce that state funds for Cole Hall’s renovation had been released.

According to NIU Today, construction crews are placing a fence around the construction area and some segments are expected to be reduced to as little as 8 feet.

Because the construction has now begun a more active phase, “there will periodically be associated noise, including sharp percussive or banging noises,” said Reed Scherer, interim associate dean for research and graduate affairs, in an e-mail to the various department chairs of the College of Liberal Arts and Science.

The start of construction will require adjustments for some pedestrians.

“The renovation project will slightly alter accessibility to portions of pedestrian walkways near Cole Hall and the Stevens Building during the course of the construction,” said Brad Hoey, team leader for Media Relations and Internal Communications. “Students, faculty, and staff may also occasionally encounter construction crews transporting equipment from the bus turnaround near Reavis Hall to the Cole-Stevens construction site.”

Special consideration has been taken to make that area of campus open and clear off traffic, but they recommend adding more time for travel, Hoey said.

“Efforts have been made to limit the effect the Cole-Stevens renovation project will have on foot traffic across campus,” Hoey said. “However, students should build into their daily campus routine additional travel time across campus if their route takes them in close vicinity of Cole Hall.”

Sheena Harvey, senior public administration major, said she is looking forward to the construction beginning.

“I’m excited that construction has finally started on Cole Hall,” Harvey said. “I think this will help the NIU community start to move past what happen three years ago.”

In a Northern Star article from Sept. 14, 2010, Eddie Williams, executive vice president of finance and facilities and chief of operations, was quoted saying, “The current focus is on the renovation of Cole Hall and on the planned renovation of Stevens Hall. Each of these renovations will include newly-renovated smart classrooms, and some truly state-of-the-art classrooms and lecture halls.”

The other auditorium will be turned into the NIU Anthropology Museum, which will replace the space previously used in the Stevens Building. The remainder of the building will be transformed into a 50-seat computer lab.

Cole Hall has been closed since the Feb. 14 shooting and is scheduled to reopen this fall.