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Exterior completed on JJC building

Exterior work on Joliet Junior College's new city center campus was completed last week.
Exterior work on Joliet Junior College's new city center campus was completed last week.

JOLIET – Exterior work on Joliet Junior College’s $58 million city center building has been completed.

The project, initially expected to be finished in January, was pushed back by snow and frigid weather conditions.

“I think a lot of it was recovery from the brutal winter that carried into the spring,” said Neil Wisker, project manager for Mortenson Construction of Chicago. “It pushed us back a couple months.”

Mortenson announced Thursday it had completed the exterior work on the six-story structure. The 96,000-square-foot building at Chicago and Clinton streets is adjacent to the Renaissance Center, 214 N. Ottawa St. Connecting the two buildings, as well as working in a tight urban landscape, was a challenge, Wisker said.

“The design team had their challenges in putting the two buildings together so that they could still be entered in off of Chicago Street,” Wisker said.

The college is excited at seeing the downtown project progress, said Kelly Rohder, JJC’s director of communications.

“I think a lot of times people don’t even remember we have a presence down there,” Rohder said. “We serve a lot of students through workforce development and adult education.”

The new building will house the adult education and literacy department, workforce development, the college’s renowned culinary arts program and a large cafeteria on the first floor, with another large dining and public area also planned for the second floor.

The building is composed of 1,100 tons of structural steel, according to Mortenson officials. It contains 3,000 cubic yards of concrete for the foundation and floors, requiring 350 full concrete trucks. The structure is built to LEED Silver energy-efficiency standards. About two-thirds of the building is covered in an exterior insulation and finish system.

About 15 percent is oko, a glass fiber-reinforced concrete made of recycled fabricated materials from Sweden. The oko horizontal panels contain gaps that serve as rain screens.

As a counterbalance, about 5 percent of the building is made of insulated metal panels that add contrast.

Windows round out the rest of the exterior, including a sweeping two-story curtain wall at the main entrance at the corner of Chicago and Webster streets that provides a panoramic view of downtown Joliet. More than 70 percent of the work on the exterior construction and installation of heating, cooling and ventilation units was contracted to local businesses, according to Mortenson. The second phase of the project, to complete the interior of the building, won’t begin until next year.

JJC still is waiting for the state to provide its $25.5 million share of the funding, though the Illinois Community College Board, to finish the project. City Center has been on the ICCB’s project funding list for more than a decade, and is the No. 1 project on the list.

However, state legislators still have to appropriate capital funds for the project.

The college plans to wait for funding until the state Legislature finishes its lame duck session next January, Rohder said. If funding isn’t made available by then, the college will use its own internal funding to complete the project, she said.

“One way or another, it will be built,” Rohder said. “It just depends on what pot of money we use.”

Completion is planned for mid-2016.

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