North Central College - Naperville, IL

North Central College maps potential sites for new Science Center

This summer, the Naperville City Council approved a 10-year update to the College’s Master Land Use Plan.

Topping the list of potential projects that city staff, council members and the public reviewed is a new $40 million to $50 million science center that would replace Kroehler Science Center. The structure would be designed to foster a more interdisciplinary approach to teaching sciences, and the teaching facilities would be built to integrate classroom lectures and lab activities in the same space.

“We need a facility that will encourage interaction among the scientific disciplines,” says Richard J. Wilders, Marie and Bernice Gantzert Professor in the Liberal Arts and Sciences and professor of mathematics. “Additionally, we need space that can transform seamlessly from lecture to lab and back again within a single class period.”

Several potential sites for a new science center were identified in the plan, which was featured in a Chicago Tribune article on July 16, 2010:

  • North Campus: Two sites at the north gateway to campus on Loomis Street are options. To the west of Kiekhofer Hall, a new science building could be built on the site of Larrance Academic Center (which would be torn down) and adjacent surface parking lot. East of Loomis, a new building could be built on the site of the existing Kimmel and Seybert residence halls, both of which are in need of significant renovation or replacement.
  • Mid-Campus: A site adjacent to the existing Kroehler Science Center is identified as a possible addition to Kroehler, or as a phased enlargement and subsequent replacement of the existing building.
  • South Campus: A site at the extreme south end of campus, which currently functions as a dry pond for water detention, was also discussed in the plan. The location near the DuPage River offers outdoor science teaching opportunities, though the design would need to maintain the water detention function of the site and address safe access to the building.
  • The College might explore a fourth option for locating a science center. If the Little Friends property at 140 N. Wright St. becomes available, the College could reacquire the 5-acre Kroehler parcel that was sold in the early 1970s.

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    Other provisions in the plan include additional space for academic classrooms and faculty offices and replacing or renovating older student housing in Kimmel, Seybert and Geiger Halls and Student Village. Additional improvements likely to occur over the next decade will affect Larrance Academic Center (if not replaced by a new science center), Oesterle Library, Merner Field House and Pfeiffer Hall. Also included are continued plans to construct a campus pedestrian spine, which has been a desired improvement for more than two decades, and a southwest gateway to give the campus and neighbors greater access to downtown Naperville and the Naperville Riverwalk. That project would cost $1.5 million. Both projects will be important aspects of the Sesquicentennial capital campaign.

    The College hopes to maintain open green space on campus and continue to manage traffic through use of remote parking lots and other initiatives. Other steps are designed to make the campus more bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly, and the plan also spells out guidelines for landscaping and signage improvements.

    The College first adopted a Master Land Use Plan in 1989 to help satisfy a requirement of its designation as a special zoning district that restricts such features as building size and height. The plan was updated in 2000, and the 2010 update maps possible capital improvements through 2020. The College in recent years has worked hard to gain support from its neighbors, who have provided positive input to the planning process and made it more collaborative. In addition to regular communications, the College also offers space for local meetings and invitations to campus activities.

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    “By involving neighbors and the city’s Historic Sites Commission—though not required—the College has produced better buildings and demonstrated that we care,” says Paul Loscheider, vice president for business affairs. “That openness has led us to the point now where the latest update to the Master Land Use Plan received little criticism and had significant positive input from neighbors.”

    02/09/2010