JOLIET — Joliet Junior College officials are considering several options for renovating the downtown Renaissance Center, a project slated to finish with the construction of the City Center campus building.
On Monday, architects from Demonica Kemper Architects joined college officials and board trustees at a kickoff meeting for the Renaissance Center Renovating Steering Committee for Design Development.
They outlined several goals for the renovation project, including combining the City Center campus building and Renaissance Center as a “seamless complex,” said architect Dominick Demonica. The City Center building will connect to the hallways and ballroom of the Renaissance Center.
The architects also wanted to gather input from the college on how the interior of the Renaissance Center should be renovated. About $4 million is budgeted for the project, which is scheduled to be complete, along with the City Center interior work, by spring semester 2017, he said.
“We wanted to see if there are any strong feelings in terms of the aesthetic design,” Demonica said.
The Renaissance Center is an about 90-year-old building at 214 N. Ottawa St. that features a blend of Spanish and Italian architecture. The structure was designed by an architectural firm from Chicago – the same firm behind Joliet’s Union Station – and built in 1925.
It was originally designed to be a social hall for the Joliet Chamber of Commerce and has changed ownership several times since its construction. In 1980, the college took over the property and renamed it the Renaissance Center.
The architects proposed plans for the first and second floor of the Renaissance Center. They showed how the first floor would have connecting corridors between the City Center and Renaissance Center, along with new offices, a campus police entry and an elevator.
They also went over interior design considerations.
When it came to the atrium space in the Renaissance Center, the architects asked college officials if they wanted to explore new design options for the ceiling and suggested a skylight. Architect Greg Spitzer said that behind the ceiling was an old skylight that’s been “roofed over.”
“It would look nice, especially if it had some kind of stained glass design,” said college trustee Robert Wunderlich.
The architects also wanted to know if the ballroom should have new windows or more energy-efficient lighting. They suggested revamping the flooring by making it all carpeting with a portable wood floor.
The adjoining building to the north of the Renaissance Center, the former Sheraton Hotel, will be demolished and make way for parking space. But college officials said that plan is on hold.
With the hotel demolished, the architects proposed a pedestrian plaza at the site and converting the rest of the area into parking.
“That is an idea that will evolve,” Spitzer said.