El Centro: A celebration of form and function

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

 
Northeastern Illinios University threw a grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday, Sept. 30, for its new El Centro location in Avondale. Here are some of the most interesting features of Northeastern's newest building.

Architectural Highlights

  • 66,000 square-feet, three stories
  • $27 million budget
  • Designed by Juan Moreno of the Chicago-based architecture firm JGMA
  • The "fins" on the building appear gold when viewed from the south, blue from the north.
  • Many materials, such as the exposed concrete, perform the function of structure and finish.
  • In many spaces the building structure shows through on the interior, allowing students to see how the building was assembled.
  • Color-coded pipes correspond to mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, allowing students to learn how buildings function.

Building Features

  • 17 classrooms with the latest teaching technology
  • Computer lab
  • Seminar rooms
  • Science labs
  • Student lounge with views of the Chicago skyline
  • Resource center/library
  • Meeting rooms
  • Faculty and staff offices
  • Community room

Environmental Sustainability Features

  • Rooftop replete with solar panels 
  • Thick, sound-insulating glass and strategically placed hallways buffer highway noise from classrooms and offices.
  • Planting more than 100 trees, 300 shrubs, 10,000 perennials and hundreds of flowering bulbs
  • All are drought resistant and do not require watering after they are established.
  • Plumbing fixtures are the lowest water consumption capacity possible.
  • Many walls are raw, dyed concrete, eliminating the need to cover them with an additional material.
  • The Resource Center wall, long bench and seating area are made of renewable bamboo.
  • Parking area features permeable pavers to divert stormwater. 
  • The retention area below the pavers primarily includes stone made from crushed concrete from the site’s former buildings.
  • Former site’s brick has been salvaged and is being used by others. 
  • Light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs illuminate the parking area and walkways.
  • Because the lights are directed downward, they minimize night sky light pollution.
  • The parking area includes six electric vehicle-charging stations funded by the student-run NEIU Green Fee Committee.
  • The building features ample glass to maximize natural light.
  • The patio area boasts a demonstration green roof. The building’s roof also features a 75-kilowatt photovoltaic array.