Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Medill building to open in 2002

Medill School of Journalism administrators said Tuesday that they will start construction on a long-planned building by March — more than two years after its official groundbreaking ceremony.

Assoc. Dean Richard Roth said he will solicit bids for the four-story building’s construction next week and that, if all goes according to plan, Medill will begin the first stage of construction in six weeks.

The building, to be named the Robert R. McCormick Tribune Foundation Journalism Center, will be adjacent to Fisk Hall. Locy Hall, the building now connected to Fisk, will be demolished.

The March groundbreaking will not be the first time Medill officials have celebrated the start of the building’s construction.

Dean Ken Bode presided over an “ungroundbreaking” ceremony in 1998, and he told The Daily in 1999 that he had hoped to begin the 16-month construction project in January 2000. And Asst. Dean Roger Boye said in 1998 that he had hoped to break ground in the summer of 1999.

But a series of minor delays — from a lack of funds to underground blockages — have pushed back the start of construction.

After failing to find a corporate sponsor for the building’s floor dedicated to the Integrated Marketing Communications program, Medill took out a $2.5 million loan from the university to pay for it.

And construction plans hit a snag — in the form of abandoned underground oil drums — in 1999. The two 10,000-gallon drums, which would have interfered with the project, were removed early in 2000.

But, despite the delays, Roth said the building’s construction is on schedule and that it is set to open in the fall of 2002.

“Most of us knew nothing about what it takes to undertake a project like this,” he said. “There are 1,000 little details. All this takes quite awhile.”

The building, funded in part by a $20 million grant from the McCormick Tribune Foundation, will include a broadcast studio, a 150-seat forum with a satellite uplink and the Integrated Marketing Communications program. The 40,000-square-foot building also will contain faculty and administrative offices and eight classrooms.

Boye said the building will incorporate cutting-edge technology into Medill’s existing curriculum, especially its new media department.

Although the new media department now has offices in the basement of Fisk, Boye said it will occupy the entire second floor of the new building.

“It will greatly improve our new media facilities in an era where new media is in the forefront of everyone’s vocabulary,” Boye said.

Moving Medill’s new media department to the building also will give faculty in Fisk more “elbow room” and will provide a dramatic improvement over Fisk’s 19th-century accommodations, Roth said.

“We’re on track,” Roth said. “The best news is that it’s going to happen. We’ve got the money and the support of (University President Henry Bienen). We’re ready.”

Boye said the satellite uplink in the first-floor forum room will help Medill attract more high-profile speakers and give its broadcast students an opportunity to cover them. Boye said students will be able to record speakers and events and broadcast them over Evanston cable television.

The broadcast students currently use equipment in Louis Hall, but they will move to the fourth floor of the new building when it is completed.

The 16-month construction project will kick off at a time when the nanofabrication project on North Campus has already forced students to walk far out of their way.

Roth joked that the South Campus construction will make getting to class even more complicated.

“We want to make sure that both the north and south ends of campus are torn up when you walk here,” he said.

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Medill building to open in 2002