Arch101: Campus Architecture

Architecture plays a central role in society, reflecting the culture of the times and providing the infrastructure in which citizens live. Buildings encompass functional, environmental, and aesthetic elements, and are often considered works of art in their own right.

Following the Morrill Act of 1862, which granted each state in the United States a portion of land on which to establish a public state university, Urbana, IL was chosen as the site for the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. One of the advantages of Urbana had over other potential locations was the Urbana and Champaign Institute, a brand new school building ready for immediate use. Known as the University Building, the Old Main University Building, and even the "Elephant" Building, it was used for both classroom and dormitory space until other buildings were erected. When it was destroyed by a storm in 1880, it was simply a dormitory. The Mechanical Building and Drill Hall were erected in 1872, with more buildings to quickly follow.

Several architects have been instrumental in transforming the University of Illinois campus into what it is today, including Nathan Clifford Ricker, the first person to receive a degree in architecture in the United States. Numerous campus buildings have been placed on the National Register of Historic Places, including the Round Dairy Barns, the Main Library, and Altgeld Hall.

In the fall of 2013, undergraduate students in an Architecture 101 survey course at the University of Illinois worked in groups to develop information about the locations within this tour.

ACES Library

BUILDING HISTORY Many don't know that ACES stands for Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, as the library is often called the Funk Library. This is due to Isaac and Cassandra Funk's generous donation that went into the…

Activities Recreation Center (ARC)

BUILDING HISTORY The University of Illinois Activities and Recreation Center (ARC) originally opened in 1971 as IMPE, Intramural Physical Education. For the time period, this was the largest and most impressive structure of its kind, containing…

The Armory

BUILDING HISTORY The University of Illinois was founded with a land grant from the federal government in 1862 with the condition that instruction in military science and tactics would be given. The first building ever built on campus was the Drill…

Assembly Hall

BUILDING HISTORY The design of Assembly Hall, by Max Abramovitz, called for the construction of one of the world's largest edge-supported structures. The building is considered an engineering marvel because of the unique method used to build…

Astronomical Observatory

BUILDING HISTORY The Astronomical Observatory is a U.S. National Historic Landmark located just north of the Morrow Plots. The observatory has been used by scientists like Joel Stebbins and Robert H. Baker who were important in the development of…

Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology

BUILDING HISTORY: In 1985, with the idea of using private resources to contribute to new large-scale science projects, which resulted in two committees, Arnold O. Beckman and his wife Mabel made the largest donation given to the University of…

Business Instructional Facility

BUILDING HISTORY The College of Business Instructional Facility, commonly referred to as BIF, was a $60 million dollar project approved in July 2005, started in April 2006, and completed in time for Fall semester in Summer 2008. The building was…

Chemistry Annex

BUILDING HISTORY The Chemistry Annex was built because the University needed more space for the Chemistry students, and only having Noyes Laboratory was no longer sufficient. The building is connected to Davenport Hall and has a underground tunnel…

Davenport Hall

BUILDING HISTORY The Agriculture Building, also known as The Old Agriculture building, was dedicated on May 21,1901. The original design by Joseph C. Llewellyn, an 1877 graduate of University of Illinois, was 94,900 square feet and cost $122,972 to…

Engineering Hall

BUILDING HISTORY In June of 1893, the University Board of Trustees asked the General Assembly of Illinois to appropriate $160,000 in funds in order to erect a building for the College of Engineering. An act was passed on the 6th of June to…

English Building

BUILDING HISTORY The English Building was built originally in 1905 by a firm called McKim, Mead and White with the project estimating around $80,000. Its original purpose was for a woman’s dormitory that housed a pool, chemical laboratory,…

Grainger Engineering Library

BUILDING HISTORY: Grainger Library was built on October 14, 1994 and was dedicated to all of the disciplines of the school of engineering at the University of Illinois. Before Grainger Library was built another building stood in its place. Over one…

Harker Hall

BUILDING HISTORY Harker Hall was built in 1878, making it the oldest building with classrooms on campus. The building was designed by Nathan Ricker while he was a professor at the University of Illinois. The Hall was originally called the Chemical…

Illini Union

BUILDING HISTORY The Illini Union was originally started from the rent of the first floor of the YMCA. The expansion plan was started when the University bought the building in 1938. It was built in 1939 and dedicated by First Lady Eleanor…

Japan House

BUILDING HISTORY The history of Japan House can be traced back into 1964, when Shozo Sato who was an artist-in-residence at the Krannert Center for Performing Arts began to teach serious of courses related to the arts and culture of Japan. He tried…

Krannert Art Museum

BUILDING HISTORY The Krannert Art Museum in Champaign, Illinois was opened in 1961 for the use of the university and city. Herman Krannert, a graduate of the university in 1912, along with his wife and other donors, offered the museum as a gift to…

Krannert Center for the Performing Arts

BUILDING HISTORY A native of Chicago, Herman Krannert was a 1912 graduate of the University of Illinois and the founder and chairman of the Inland Container Corporation. Ellnora Krannert was a native of Indiana and a graduate of Brenau College in…

Mumford Farm House

BUILDING HISTORY Mumford House was built in 1871, making it the oldest surviving building on the campus of the University of Illinois, and served as a model farmhouse for the University's experimental farm. The first resident of this building…

Natural History Building

ARCHITECT: Nathan Clifford Ricker LOCATION: Urbana, Illinois COMPLETION: November 16th, 1892 BUILDING TYPE: Academic BUILDING HISTORY The Natural History Building was dedicated on November 16th, 1892, officially opening to the University of…

Noyes Laboratory

BUILDING HISTORY The department of chemistry was the first to get its own building in 1877, and was completed shortly thereafter in 1878 with a budget of $20,000. The building was, “one of the best and largest on the continent” (Tilton, 16). …

President's House

BUILDING HISTORY The President’s House was the result of a decree in 1928 by the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. This called for a “suitable President’s House...adequate for the probable needs and duties of the President of…

Siebel Center for Computer Science

BUILDING HISTORY The Siebel Center, home to thousands of computer science students and faculty, is one of the most technologically advanced buildings on the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign campus. In 1999, alumnus Tom Siebel generously…

Smith Memorial Hall

BUILDING HISTORY Smith Memorial Hall was named for Tina Weedon Smith, wife of Captain Thomas J. Smith of Champaign, IL. On August 14, 1913, Captain Thomas J. Smith wrote a letter to Captain Edward Bailey stating that Smith intended to donate about…

Spurlock Museum

BUILDING HISTORY The modern Spurlock Museum as we know it today looked significantly different and had many different forms since the foundation of the museum was erected back in 1911. From 1911 until 2002, the museum operated from Lincoln…

Taft House

BUILDING HISTORY Originally, this house was the home of Don Carlos Taft who also built the residence. While his son, Lorado Taft, was growing up, Don Carlos Taft and his family resided in this house. Lorado Taft was a distinguished alumni of the…

Temple Hoyne Buell Hall

BUILDING HISTORY Temple Hoyne Buell Hall was built in 1995 in honor of Temple Hoyne Buell himself. Temple Buell studied at the University of Illinois and later graduated at Columbia University. He created the first central mall with parking lots…