Modernizing an Iconic Arts Center


Officials from the City of Elgin and the State of Illinois and project team members from Cordogan Clark broke ground Wednesday on the long-anticipated addition and renovation for the Hemmens Cultural Center, an iconic Elgin landmark. This project will modernize Hemmens while preserving its legacy as a premier destination for the arts. The groundbreaking ceremony marked the project's commencement at the Center in Elgin, Illinois.

The project reflects Elgin's commitment to the arts, enriching the community for generations to come. Cordogan Clark will oversee the project to create innovative and functional spaces, meeting both present and future needs. "This will continue to make the Hemmens an attractive venue for the community and the region for decades to come," Assistant to the City Manager Amanda Harris said. "And it will further solidify Elgin's burgeoning reputation as a city of the arts."

Key features of the addition include a new lobby and reception areas, new second-floor multipurpose rooms with an outdoor balcony, an improved box office, a covered drop-off area, accessible restrooms on the main floor, new office space, and additional storage facilities. It is designed in keeping with the Miesian style of the existing building, but updated to meet new energy standards. The balcony provides for covered patron drop-off below and a new indoor/outdoor reception area and gathering space above. Long-awaited bathrooms are being added to the first floor, and a new box office will allow patrons access from inside and outside the building. The project also will add more office and storage space, repair parts of the building and address water leakage problems.

"It's been a long time coming," council member Tish Powell said. "I think this is a huge asset to the community, and I definitely look forward to the changes that are being proposed."

The Hemmens was constructed in the 1960s as part of the development of Civic Center Plaza. Originally called the Hemmens Community Building, the name honors Elginite and heiress Hattie Pease Hemmens, whose donation helped lead to the plaza's creation. Construction of the Mies van der Rohe-style Hemmens building was completed in 1969 and was designed by the architectural firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill.

Cordogan Clark designed the new Hemmens Proscenium and developed a feasibility study and master plan for the addition more than two decades ago. The schematic design for this new addition was prepared by Allen + Pepa Architects. Cordogan Clark is further developing and constructing this long anticipated addition.

(Lead Image: Elgin Mayor Dave Kaptain speaking at the Hemmens groundbreaking ceremony)

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