University of Illinois discusses updating Illini Union


URBANA — The University of Illinois aims to renovate and expand its historic Illini Union built during the Great Depression.

A feasibility study conducted in February spurred plans for a top-to-bottom renovation, The News-Gazette reported. The study showed when compared to 14 similar institutions, the Illini Union is below average for space allocated to student programming, flexible lounge areas, student organization meeting spaces and conference or break-out space.

The renovation project would cost $247 million and be the most expensive in the campus’ history.

“This really is an iconic building,” said Angela Dimit, director of advancement for student affairs, which oversees the Illini Union. “I think alumni will be very, very eager to be a part of it.”

Preliminary designs include a three-story addition to the middle of the building with glassed-in walls. It would also include remodeling the 74 hotel rooms that are at the south end of the building.

Backers say renovating the Illini Union would add needed space for student programs, recreation, meetings and conferences.

The project requires approval by university trustees and construction wouldn’t begin until 2022.

The proposal is among the campus’ top construction priorities. It will be part of the university-wide campaign set to kick off in October, and officials envision “naming opportunities.”