Remodeling work on Cole Hall will constrict foot traffic on sidewalks around the building in the months ahead.
Starting Friday, Jan. 14, construction fencing will surround much of the brick patio on the east side of the building. As a result, some segments of sidewalk around Cole will be reduced to as little as 8 feet wide.
With the fencing in place, crews will begin work that will double the size of the building’s vestibule and change its profile. They will replace the mostly brick façade with an expanse of glass, steel and stone.
Changes inside of Cole Hall will be just as dramatic.
One of the two existing auditoriums will be substantially modified, transforming the spartan 1960s lecture hall into a modern facility with improved sightlines, seating that is more comfortable and the full complement of modern electronics to meet the needs of 21st century students and teachers.
The other half of Cole will be re-purposed for two new uses.
One portion will become the new home of the NIU Anthropology Museum. This space will replace the converted classroom space in the Stevens Building, where the museum has been housed for decades. The new facility, designed specifically to meet the demands of the museum, will provide a much better showcase its thousands of artifacts.
The remainder of the building will be dedicated to a 50-seat computer lab where students can participate in projects that will allow them to take full advantage of online resources while collaboratively solving problems.
All electrical, plumbing and climate control systems in the building also will be modernized.
The goal is to have all work completed in time to reopen the building to students in this fall.
Cole Hall has been closed since Feb. 14, 2008, when a gunman entered a class in one of the auditoriums and took the lives of five students before killing himself.