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Department breaks ground on Hydro building addition, smart bridge

Many generous donors to the Modernization project attended the ceremony.
Many generous donors to the Modernization project attended the ceremony.

A groundbreaking ceremony on Saturday, March 30, 2019, marked the beginning of construction for a new building addition to the Hydrosystems Laboratory, one of two campus buildings of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The addition to the Hydrosystems Laboratory will feature more than 51,000 square feet of classroom, laboratory and collaboration space. The project will also include a “Smart Bridge,” a suspension bridge connecting the new building addition to Newmark Civil Engineering Laboratory across the street. The bridge will be instrumented with a variety of sensors to demonstrate for students and visitors the effects of various forces on built structures, both above and below ground.

Speakers at the groundbreaking included University of Illinois President Timothy Killeen, Chancellor Robert Jones, Provost Andreas Cangellaris, College of Engineering Dean Rashid Bashir and CEE department head Benito Mariñas.

Demolition on the south half of the Hydrosystems Lab, built in the late 1960s, began in fall 2018. The addition to be built in its place will feature 125% more square footage of classes, laboratories, student collaboration spaces and offices. The north portion of the building, which houses a large water resources experimental lab, will remain in service. The Smart Bridge will connect the Hydrosystems Lab and Newmark Civil Engineering Laboratory. 

Department Head Benito Marinas, left, with University and College Leadership: (l-r) President Timothy Killeen, Chancellor Robert Jones, Provost Andreas Cangellaris and College of Engineering Dean Rashid Bashir.
Department Head Benito Marinas, left, with University and College Leadership: (l-r) President Timothy Killeen, Chancellor Robert Jones, Provost Andreas Cangellaris and College of Engineering Dean Rashid Bashir.

Although the Hydrosystems Lab has traditionally been utilized for teaching courses and conducting research in hydrology and hydraulic engineering, the new addition will be utilized by all students of the department. The addition is part of a CEE initiative to modernize its facilities, curriculum and teaching methods. Modern classrooms, laboratories and collaboration areas were designed to support innovative teaching methods like project-based learning, hands-on experimentation and group work.

Construction is expected to be completed by summer 2020.

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