Northeastern Illinois University President Sharon Hahs and dignitaries cut the ribbon at El Centro on Sept. 30.

Northeastern celebrates opening of new El Centro building

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Northeastern Illinois University unveiled its new El Centro building at 3390 N. Avondale Ave. in Chicago on Tuesday, Sept. 30. The new $27 million facility enables the University to significantly expand its academic and community programming.

The opening event included a speaking program and ribbon-cutting ceremony at 1:30 p.m. outside of the new building. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin and U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez joined several other dignitaries, friends of Northeastern, and University faculty and staff for the celebration.

The new 66,000 square-foot, three-story building hugs the Kennedy Expressway. The hue-changing building appears blue when viewed from the south and gold from the north. The building was designed by Juan Moreno of Chicago-based architecture firm JGMA and is expected to earn LEED Gold classification.

Building features include: 

  • 17 classrooms equipped with the latest classroom technology
  • Computer lab
  • Seminar rooms
  • Science labs
  • Student lounge with views of the Chicago skyline
  • Resource center/library
  • Meeting rooms
  • Faculty and staff offices
  • Rooftop replete with solar panels
  • Countless environmental sustainability features

The official first day of classes held at El Centro was Saturday, Sept. 20.

“For more than 40 years, El Centro has served as a gateway to higher education for the Latino community,” Northeastern Illinois University President Sharon Hahs said. “With this new El Centro location, Northeastern Illinois University is committing to the future of our students and the needs of the communities we serve.”

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. The building has the capacity to serve 2,500 students, twice the number at the former storefront location. El Centro serves nontraditional, part-time and returning adult student populations as well as traditional first-year and transfer students.

Northeastern Illinois University is a fully accredited public university serving 10,000 full- and part-time undergraduate and graduate students in the Chicago metropolitan area. Northeastern engages its diverse university community in a rich environment of learning, teaching and scholarship. The University offers more than 80 academic programs in the arts, sciences, education and business. In 2012 Newsweek magazine named Northeastern Illinois University the sixth-best investment among all universities in the nation and No. 1 in Illinois. The University also is recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the most diverse universities in the United States and is federally designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution.