The Northern Illinois University (NIU) residence hall was constructed in the 1960s when there were more students than colleges could accommodate. With increased competition among today’s universities, NIU sought to attract and retain students with quality student housing, as well as its academics.
Since it was not feasible to tear down the building, the challenge ASSOCIATED FIRM CAPACITY450COST PER SQ FT$26.82FEATURED IN1999 Educational InteriorsINTERIOR CATEGORYResidence Halls/Lounges to redesign the existing space to meet the needs of today’s students. ADA, technology, and programmatic and aesthetic issues were addressed. The building meets the university’s technical standards for voice, data and cable systems.
The old residence was designed for 2,000 students in four, 10-story towers. Each tower was segregated with identical rooms, dining areas, lobbies and community bathrooms. The same building now accommodates 1,280 students, and is designed to promote community and enhanced privacy and flexibility. The architect opened up the previously segmented ground-floor central space, creating a pedestrian street through the middle, with a deck/cafe open to the street, an outdoor plaza and plenty of light. The old, cafeteria-style dining areas have been replaced with a food court. Built-ins were removed from the rooms to accommodate computer-ready movable pieces.
Photographer: ©Hedrich-Blessing/Bob Harr