Watterson Towers, home to 2,200 Illinois State University students during the academic year is one of the tallest student residences in the world. Cordogan Clark oversaw interior and exterior renovations to enhance student experience and reposition these towers for the 21st Century.
The 28-story twin-tower complex is divided into ten five-story “houses” that are named after U.S. Secretaries of State. The unique design of Watterson Towers treats each house as a separate residence hall, with the third floor of each house containing elevator access and an enclosed walkway that leads to the opposing tower. Within a house, most floors are divided into four “suites” consisting of six rooms each.
Prior to renovation Watterson Towers were known for their windowless lounge spaces and extensive concrete, but the renovations make the towers more inviting. Elevator hallways were enhanced with campus history photos and memorabilia about secretaries of state for whom each house is named. All furnishings were replaced, bathrooms upgraded, lighting added, and interior redesign provides variety throughout. Other work included new wireless technology; expansion of the sprinkler system; exterior concrete repair; insulated cross tower breezeways; and replaced 1200 non-thermally broken windows with thermally broken frames and Low-E insulated glass, significantly improving energy efficiency. The new windows include custom sill extrusions that resist water infiltration at design pressures.