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Paul Basalay of Basalay, Cary, Alstadt Architects of Ottawa gestures inside an unfinished room within the Peter Miller Community Technology Center at Illinois Valley Community College. The $30 million building addition at the college will hold several technical degree programs and office space.
The Peter Miller Community Technology Center under construction at Illinois Valley Community College will not be your everyday, ho-hum school building addition. Massive windows throughout the building take advantage of not only natural light, but the beauty of the surrounding campus. Large, open areas seem to mask the dozens of classrooms, office spaces and student life areas incorporated into its design. And frankly, the building is so massive that one forgets the cultural center stage and auditorium are still located inside. The NewsTribune was invited to tour the inside of the $30 million addition last week with Miller Group Media owner Cathy Miller, whose Miller Group Charitable Trust donated $1 million for the project. “We need this space to accommodate our growth and tear down the 40-year-old temporary buildings we’ve been using,” said IVCC president Jerry Corcoran. “This building not only will be a first-class learning facility by itself, it also will free up about 30,000 square feet of space in the main campus.” Interestingly, a portion of the $1 million donation was used to purchase a small version of a house so that students could have a life-like version of a home to learn the particulars of building trades. And as Corcoran likes to comment, the “small house” was so large that rather than design a door big enough to accommodate it, the CTC was built around it. “The first piece of learning equipment bought using the donation was so large that it was easier to build the building around it,” Corcoran said. Once completed later this year, the CTC will become home to nine career programs and student services such as admissions, financial aid, counseling, career services and Project Success as well as Continuing Education and Adult Education. The building will wrap around the existing Cultural Centre and provide a new front door to the campus. College officials hope to have it ready for classes January 2014. Many of those career programs will feature state-of-the-art equipment. The CTC also has been designed to be a welcoming place for the community. The entrance to the upgraded Cultural Centre auditorium will feature massive 30-foot tall windows that allow guests to view the forest that surrounds the campus. And throughout the complex passers-through are not only offered fantastic views of the surrounding campus but also will be able to look into classrooms such as the wind technology lab. “We’ve strategically placed the windows to take advantage of as much natural light as possible and offer people views of the outside landscape and inside classrooms,” said architect Paul Basalay, who has been working on the project. Currently, many of the inside walls aren’t up. The ceilings have yet to be covered. And anyone walking through the site must wear a hard hat. At the end of the tour, Corcoran said jokingly: “This has been a sneak peak — we’re not ready to do this on a daily basis.” Joking aside, if members of the community knew what IVCC will unveil later this year, there wouldn’t be enough hard hats to accommodate the requests of “sneak peak” tours. The bottom line is that the Illinois Valley is in desperate need of jobs. And having a facility immediately able to train nearly any work force with the quality of equipment and infrastructure the CTC will offer plays mightily into any job-attraction equation. “At a time when we need a first-class facility to train our work force this could not have come along at a more opportune time,” Corcoran said.
Kevin Caufield can be reached at (815) 220-6932.
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