The Chicago Building Congress has awarded Northeastern Illinois University’s new El Centro building its prestigious Merit Award for new Chicago construction under $55 million.
The announcement was made at the Chicago Building Congress 59th Annual Merit Awards on May 20 at the Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile.
“We are proud to have earned this honor,” said Northeastern Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Richard J. Helldobler. “Our state-of-the-art El Centro building is the culmination of what was first conceptualized in the 1960s, when Latino students attending Northeastern urged for a learning center in their community, for their community. In keeping with our University values of diversity and access to opportunity, El Centro will continue to provide quality educational opportunities to Chicago’s Latino and non-Latino students and community members.”
Situated along the Kennedy Expressway in the Avondale neighborhood of Chicago, El Centro opened in September 2014 with a ribbon-cutting event attended by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, among other dignitaries.
The $27 million facility has enabled Northeastern to significantly expand its academic and community programming. It was designed by Juan Moreno of Chicago-based architecture firm JGMA and is expected to earn LEED Gold classification. The building has the capacity to serve 2,500 students, twice the number as the former location.
El Centro offers degree programs in Social Work, Computer Science, Justice Studies and Special Education, plus an array of general education courses. El Centro also serves the surrounding community through programs such as English as a second language, health and financial seminars, and computer literacy courses. El Centro serves nontraditional, part-time and returning adult student populations as well as traditional first-year and transfer students.
The Chicago Building Congress is the only vertically integrated trade association in the Chicago area. Its membership includes real estate professionals, general contractors, subcontractors, engineering firms, architects, labor unions, associations, governmental entities, educational facilities, financial institutions, insurance providers, consultants, media publications, and material manufacturers and suppliers.
El Centro’s Merit Award acknowledges Northeastern as the building’s owner as well as architectural firm JGMA; landscape architect Site Design Group; engineering firms Primera, Forefront and Prism Engineering; general contractor George Sollitt Construction Co.; and consultants Broadway Electric, F.E. Moran, USAFP and C.F. Bruckner & Son Inc.