College of LAS « Illinois

Lincoln Hall

Watching Over His Namesake

An update on the renovation of Lincoln Hall.

Lincoln Hall

Renovations of old buildings are supposed to be plagued by problems. But in the case of Lincoln Hall, the unexpected hurdles have been so minor that even skeptical observers are starting to think that maybe old Abe is watching over his legacy.

As of June, the renovation was 50 percent complete, making the building right on schedule for opening in the fall of 2012.

Certainly there have been worries, such as the Illinois Supreme Court challenge that would have put a halt to funding (resolved favorably in July). Then there was a broken water main that flooded the basement for a couple of days.

Most of the bumps in blood pressure, though, have come from tricky stages in the construction that the architect and contractors knew were coming, according to Matthew Tomaszewski, the associate dean in LAS who oversees physical facilities.

For example, the building had its feet kicked out from under it as contractors excavated the basement to accommodate new, larger mechanical systems. To prevent the building from collapsing while the basement was being deepened, engineers installed 50-foot-deep “micropiles” along the foundation walls, pushing this widely used technology from reinforcing foundations to supporting the entire structure.

“It took the equivalent of 3.2 miles of micropiles to support the building,” says Tomaszewski, “but it worked and produced a stronger building in the end.”

Several major milestones are nearly complete, such as the new slate roof, including some 85,404 tiles, which is enough to cover nearly an acre of rooftop; the restoration of 62,600 sq. ft. of external masonry; and installation of the electric service, which is equivalent to powering 67 homes. Framing and drywalling, which contractors started on the top floor and are working down, has now reached the first floor.

Most rewarding of all is that the restoration work is underway. The foyer, the main entrance off the Quad, now glitters with a gold-like paint and gold leaf on the decorative trim work that encircles the space. In the theater, craftsmen from two of Chicago’s oldest and most storied ornamental plaster companies, Luczak Brothers and Decorator’s Supply, are repairing the medallions and decorative elements rimming the rooms.

Keep watching the website for photos and video updates as the project moves into its final stages. The carpenters have 6.1 miles of restored oak trim to install!

View more photos of the progress made in Lincoln Hall.

By Holly Korab
Fall 2011