Project Description

rendering of the Campus Instructional Facility

An example of a holistic approach to economy, equity, energy and wellbeing, the new Campus Instructional Facility (CIF) provides a flexible center for learning and technology. The facility is on track to achieve net zero operational carbon in its first year—a milestone in the university’s pledge to reach carbon neutrality across its campus by 2050.

CIF is a new center for flexible learning designed to meet the changing needs of students and faculty at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). Located at the northwest corner of the Bardeen Quadrangle along Springfield Avenue and Wright Street, the building serves as a hub for teaching, with a focus on collaboration and new technologies for hands-on learning. The University partnered with Vermilion Campbell in a P3, or public-private partnership, from the project’s inception, introducing a successful new financial model for University of Illinois projects.

Targeting LEED Platinum and LEED Zero Energy certifications, the building is anticipated to perform 54% above the ASHRAE standard and 82% above the Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey standard. The team continues to monitor embodied carbon and whole life carbon post occupancy. To reduce maintenance and utility costs, net zero operational carbon is targeted through a reduced window wall ratio, radiant systems, low-VOC materials, electrochromic glazing on the east/west facades for shading, ground source heat exchange partially funded by a grant from the University’s Student Sustainability Fund, and a photovoltaic allocation from the UIUC Solar Farm. The building is all electric, aligning with UIUC’s decarbonization plans to prepare for a fossil fuel free and carbon neutral future. 

The building celebrates the university’s mission to cultivate research and discovery and includes flexible classrooms and reconfigurable spaces designed to evolve as needs change. Structure and architecture are carefully integrated, with exposed structural steel elements supporting the building’s architectural massing throughout, seamlessly integrating radiant cooling and heating, and serving as a learning tool for students. Research for structural optimization, fireproofing and MEP were done in collaboration with UIUC students and faculty. 

Collaboration hubs on each floor encourage informal gathering, along with the multi-story “Study Steps”—a gathering space framed by soaring structural trusses, which extend from floor to ceiling and connect with the levels above. A central circulation spine anchors the building’s public spaces, providing views across all floors and overlooking the Bardeen Quadrangle, library, and the north-south pedestrian axis. A 60-foot long-span space with flexible partitions accommodates large class configurations, while small classrooms are distributed along the building’s core, and a 500-seat auditorium is located in the lower level. Designed to respect and complement the scale and materials of surrounding buildings, the center is clad in brick and curtains of glass, maximizing natural lighting and enhancing views. 

Comprehensive environmental graphics borrow inspiration from the University’s “power of ‘I” campaign by integrating “I” words such as “innovation” and “inclusion” throughout the building. Large graphic portraits of notable alumni–also composed of “I’s”–are featured throughout the building, fostering a spirit of ambition and institutional pride amongst students, and instilling a deeper understanding of their legacy within the university and beyond.