What had been one of Northern Illinois University's most out dated facilities when it was the scene of tragic shootings four years ago, reopened after a transformation into one of the institution's most advanced. The 1960s-era building-renovated, expanded and re-christened Fay-Cooper Cole Hall features a state-of-the-art lecture hall, a new home for the NIU Anthropology Museum and a computer lab designed to cultivate collaborative problem-solving skills . For the school, renovating the building was a way to help erase the memory of the horrific shootings. For our firm, Cordogan Clark & Associates, the project entailed using architecture as an integral part of the university's healing process. Built in 1968 to house two 500-seat lecture halls, Cole Hall served for nearly four decades as the core classroom facility for many general education courses in the liberal arts program. About 6,000 students use its lecture halls each semester. But the building had not been used since the Feb. 14, 2008, shooting that left five students and the gunman dead. The new design transforms the place where the shootings occurred, while updating the building for the 21st century. Its new lobby is serene and sunlit . With marble benching and a sweeping view of central campus, it provides a new, welcoming face to what had been more austere architectural massing. It also serves as a gateway to three major and distinctive educational spaces:
• The Cole Hall Collaboratory Classroom, which boasts 48 computer stations divided among six separate learning pods. Each pod is equipped with a 65-inch, high-definition digital touch screen, enabling students to interact with educational material in the same way users interact with touch-screen iPads.
• The Anthropology Museum, which offers premium museum exhibition space and a training ground for students. Features include movable walls for creation of customized exhibit spaces, low-iron glass displays for clearer viewing and an eye-catching 10 1/2 -foot-long glass display case cut into the museum's exterior wall.
• The 351-seat Jameson Auditorium - The 43-year-old lecture hall has been completely overhauled with the addition of improved sightlines and access, technology supporting up to 750 wireless devices, comfortable seats that swivel 360 degrees to allow for small-group interact ions, the highest quality HD projection system on campus, back-of-the-room HDTV monitors and a full complement of smart technology to meet the needs of students and educators.