The restoration of Eastern Illinois University’s fire-ravaged historic Blair Hall has earned top honors from PM Engineer magazine.
KJWW Engineering Consultants of St. Louis, Mo., received the 2006 Excellence in Design Award from the trade publication, which judged projects on several criteria: innovation in design, customer satisfaction, ability to meet schedules, cost-efficient strategies and community improvement.
As a result, Blair Hall was featured on the magazine's November 2006 cover, and a lengthy story with photos was included inside.
“Costing $6 million and lasting nearly two years, KJWW’s restoration of Blair Hall at EIU is definitely a worthy winner of this year’s award,” the story read.
It went on to describe how the April 2004 fire consumed the roof and third floor of the building and wrought extensive damage to the rest of the interior and furnishings.
“However, campus officials were determined to salvage the limestone exterior and renovate the 34,000-square-foot limestone landmark,” the story read. “EIU, the architect, engineers and construction team re-created the hall’s original 1913 look with high-tech features for safety, comfort and state-of-the-art education.”
The story detailed the challenges faced by the design team – which also included EIU officials and RATIO Architects Inc., chosen for its experience in historic preservation – as it worked to make the building technologically advanced while keeping the building’s 1913 aesthetics.
“All the design considerations had to be developed in a highly compressed two-year time frame due to the sudden loss of the building’s classroom and office space,” the story read. “The design team finished under budget and on schedule – and in time for the summer session 2006 classes.”
Steve Shrake, manager of design and construction at EIU, said the honor reflected the high standards that the university required of the restoration.
“While this award goes to KJWW Engineering, it represents the quality expectations that we strive for in all campus construction projects – excellence in design and craftsmanship,” Shrake said.
Paul VanDuyne, president of KJWW Engineering, said the firm was honored to receive the award.
“Seeing the pride of the people at Eastern Illinois when the hall reopened was a reward in itself, so this recognition increases those feelings,” VanDuyne said.