Tracing the growth of Illinois
As we are all aware, the campus is constantly changing and growing. Forty years ago, the Bardeen Quad had MEL, Talbot, and Everitt. Farther north was DCL. Next door, the Men’s Old Gymnasium had just had its named changed to Kenney Gym Annex.
The Coordinated Science Lab and Newmark had already been built, but the rest of what would become the Beckman Quad (north quad) was Illini Field, where the baseball team played. On other parts of campus, CRCE, the ACES library, several other ACES buildings, the Alumni building, Research Park, most of the southern athletic fields/courts, and the Indoor Football Practice Facility didn’t exist.
In the square marked by 4thStreet, Kirby, Goodwin, and St. Mary’s Road, what is now playing fields used to be a golf course. Boneyard Creek used to flood after a big rain.
Our engineering campus expansion really started to take off with the $40 million dollar donation from Arnold and Mabel Beckman in 1985—the largest donation ever given to a public university at the time.
The National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) was finished in 1986, and the Beckman Institute was finished in 1989, as was the Micro and Nanotechnology Lab (then called the Microelectronics Lab). That year, DCL had a third floor added that also enclosed most of the old building. You can still see the original walls from the inside.
There has also been a lot of construction and renovation in more recent years. Grainger had its ribbon cutting ceremony in the 1990s. MEL is actually more than 100 years old, but underwent an extensive renovation in 2002 (ever wonder why some of its hallways have brick walls that look like the outside of the building?). Siebel Center was finished in 2004. ECEB opened just last year, and MechSE now has plans to build the Sidney Lu Center for Learning and Innovation on the corner of Goodwin and Green, while also overhauling MEB.
Some buildings have yet to change. Talbot has remained the same except for a renovation to its AeroLab in 2012, when windows were added to the west side. Everitt, Loomis Lab, MEB, Transportation Building, Ceramics Building, and MSEB (named a national historic physics site) are also the same. Most of these buildings were built in the 1950s.
The main Quad has looked pretty much the same for decades, with Lincoln Hall as an exception. Interesting history here: Lincoln was built in 1909 and had the theater added in 1929. Over time, the building, and especially the theater, fell into disarray, until Lincoln made the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois’s Ten Most Endangered list in 2005. It was then restored and renovated and reopened in 2012.
We can only imagine how the campus will look forty years from now. I’ll recognize it as long as the Morrow plots still grow, the Altgeld bells still ring over Alma, and the Engineer is still reading his book.