HSC expects renovation

By Melissa Blake

Students’ input will play a large role in the renovation plans for the Holmes Student Center, officials said. This is the first substantial renovation project for the more than 40-year-old building, Mitch Kielb, HSC Acting Director, said.

“Time, wear and tear have taken a toll on the building,” Norm Jenkins, HSC Assistant Director said. “We hope to put a fresh face on the student center and do what we can to see that the facility meets the future needs of our guests.”

Although cost projections are not yet available, NIU is developing a master plan for the project and a consultant has been hired, Kielb said.

“[This is an] assessment of what we need to do,” Kielb said.

The consulting team has spent hours interviewing the building’s users. They have focused on NIU students who use the center, Jenkins said.

Officials hope to see a preliminary design concept for the HSC makeover soon- a concept that is based on the input gathered from students.

“My opinion as to what changes are needed should, and will, take a backseat to the stated needs of those who frequent the building,” Jenkins said.

The renovation, expected to take about 10 years, will focus on fixing the building’s infrastructure and modernizing it. Many of the systems are failing and it’s time to make a plan to fix it, Kielb said.

For example, the plumbing, air conditioning and heating systems are aging.

“We frequently deal with leaks in the Student Center,” Jenkins said. “To a large extent, these leaks are the result of plumbing infrastructure problems.”

There are also issues with the outside of the building.

“We have some sections of the roof that still need replacement. We have many handicapped accessibility problems because the building has so many steps,” Kielb said.

Thousands of students visit the HSC on a daily basis, Jenkins said.

“Our primary objective is to enhance the campus experience of NIU students,” he said.

Another major focus of the renovation plan is the food court and its offerings, Kielb said.

“Students and faculty would like to have better choices,” Kielb said.

Senior English major Nana Boateng would like to see more accommodations for students.

“I would like to see more additions, like Taco Bell,” he said.

HSC officials will try to keep the disruption to students to a minimum. Some work will be done when students are not in the building, but anytime there is large scale construction there will be some disruptions, he said.

“[But] we will always keep the building open and functioning,” Kielb said.

The HSC received a face lift about two years ago when renovations to the Duke Ellington Ballroom fixed ceiling, asbestos and sound system problems. The food court was remodeled about four years ago whereas 15 years ago, the exterior bricks of the tower had to be replaced because they were falling off.

Two HSC hotel floors will also be renovated by the end of next month.