Phase 2 of Chicago campus renovation rolls into action
by Mark Donahue
Work is underway on the next phase of the second floor renovation at NLU's Chicago campus — a major effort by the University that will help in its goal to provide an unparalleled student experience.
The renovation, which originally began in summer 2011, is now moving smoothly into phase two, with a projected finish date in mid-March. NLU's effort is being underwritten by an Illinois Independent Colleges Capital Assistance Program grant, as the University received a second set of funding in August 2012 to help it launch the final work.
Marty Mickey, Vice President of Finance for NLU, said the benefits of the project are threefold:
- Creating a centrally located, student-friendly space for Advising, Enrollment and Student Finance services in Chicago.
- Enhancing financial sustainability by bringing the Institutional Advancement office into the main Chicago building — a savings of half a million dollars a year after the lease at the 200 S. Michigan annex expires on April 30.
- Deeply linking Advancement to the greater NLU community for better alumni and donor engagement.
Other highlights of the renovation include: a second transactional window for Student Finance to alleviate congestion at the front desk in the lobby; a coffee and food room next to the atrium; a "wall of distinction" outside the Advancement office honoring significant donors to the University; and a "history room" in which legacy items from the old Evanston campus will be displayed, including a writing table and chair used by University founder Elizabeth Harrison.
All work is being done by Newman Architecture with new contractor Leopardo Construction being brought in for phase two after it put in a more cost-efficient bid, Mickey said. He added that the Enrollment and Advising departments, which were temporarily moved into other spaces on the second and third floors, have been very accommodating of the project knowing it will improve services to students.
Departments will move into the new space after the project is completed in March. Mickey knows when all is said and done, the work at Chicago campus will be worth it.
"We're giving it a fresher look and making the students feel like it's a better environment, somewhere they'd like to come," he said.