Illinois Street Residence Hall
The construction of the Illinois Street Residence Halls signaled the recognition by campus of the need for greater student dormitory housing. Designed by Richardson, Severns, Scheeler and Associates in 1964, these dorms are a favorite among engineering students and are one of the few undergraduate dorms with central air-conditioning.
The $6.7M complex features two dormitories: a 5-story building that houses 640 men and a 12-story building that houses 560 women and was the first high-rise dormitory on campus. A lounge and a food service building connected the two buildings. There was also a "multipurpose building which serves almost any extracurricular need a student might have" and "even freshman rhetoric [was] taught on the premises". For those of scholarly incline, "an impressive reference library done in walnut and black leather furniture invites academic pursuits". A grand piano adorned the main lounge and bridge tables were to be found throughout. The complex had "more multi-purpose rooms than any previously built residence halls movable partitions add to the functionalism". In addition, "a large, yet uncompleted recreation room in the basement of the food service building divides up into meeting rooms". The building was also the first UI dorm to have a skylight in its dining hall, which also featured "family-style" dining, with 6 students to a table.
In keeping with campus customs of the time, the building director for Wardell was known as its Head Resident. It was her job to ensure that the hall felt like a home away from home for its residents.
The complex was largely completed in July 1964 and before opening for occupancy in September, the women's building was renamed as Ruth Aimee Wardall Hall, while the men's building became Edgar Townsend Hall. Ruth Wardall was the head of the Department of Home Economics from 1921 to 1936, while Edgar Townsend was the head of the Department of Math from 1905 to 1929 and dean of the College of Science for 8 years.
|Selected Images of the Illinois Street Residence Hall|
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