The brutalist architecture of The University of Illinois at Chicago, designed by Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill, adds an interesting feeling to the campus with the large concrete structures, concrete hallways, concrete sculptures, and concrete classrooms. In order to attract more students to the University, UIC should use the $3 sustainability fee to renovate existing classrooms and hallways from plain, dark concrete rooms to create classrooms of the future.
Starting next year, UIC will begin construction off of Harrison Street, removing a commuter parking lot and replacing it with much needed dormitories and classrooms. By creating new housing and removing commuter lots, UIC is transforming from a commuter school into a livable community. A great way to attract potential students to UIC is to show the great academic environment the new classrooms create. In Thomas Beckham Hall, the classrooms are brand new and help create a welcoming environment for learning. The only problem is that Thomas Beckham Hall is the only building on the east side of campus that has that environment.
Reducing the extremely dark tint on the windows can add natural light, which in turn reduces power consumption from the overhead lights. LEDLights.org, a website with information on lighting poses a potential sustainability issue associated with the current tubular lights in UIC classrooms:
While these lights will save a bit of money in comparison to incandescent lights, the risks involved with them do not make them a safe alternative to incandescent bulbs. In fact, they are worse for the environment than extra energy expenditure because of the toxic metals and gasses they contain.
In addition, electronic motion sensors in classrooms can help reduce power consumption by shutting off lights while classrooms are unoccupied. Painting the hallways and removing lockers creates a more open and welcoming environment rather than the dark industrial look of the hallways. Adding real desks to classrooms that have tabletops the size of a sheet of paper will help with students who use electronic devices to take notes. Many furniture producers are environmentally conscious, which benefits the school. These small changes have a big impact on the campus as it will look more attractive for potential students and more useful to current students alike.