DePaul's new Arts and Letters building (Photo by Shaymus McLaughlin for RedEye).
DePaul students had a shiny new toy waiting for them when they came back from winter break.
The brand spankin’ new Art and Letters building on the northeast corner of Kenmore Avenue and Belden Avenue.
“It kind of sticks out a little bit,” said freshman Kolton Kozlowski, who has three classes in the building this quarter. “I think that might just be from being new, but it’s a little bit brighter than all the surrounding buildings…this definitely brightens up Kenmore, definitely.”
Construction on the Arts and Letters building took place over the last year, and was completed in time for the 2011-’12 winter quarter at DePaul. The building cost $33 million, and features 47 new classrooms, plus meeting rooms and offices, spread across four floors.
And maybe more importantly for some students, new chairs.
“They have nice, comfier seats,” said Julia Jakubow, a sophomore English major. “It’s new tables and there’s sort of new technology. I mean you can just press a button now and the shades will open.”
The university held an open house on Wednesday, Jan. 11 for students, faculty, staff and anyone else interested who had not seen the building to come take a look. DePaul President Fr. Dennis Holtschneider was the main speaker, and the lead architect Joe Antunovich, was also present. According to John Holden from the university’s public relations office, a large number of people attended the half hour ceremony.
“Very big crowd, several hundred people in the lobby,” he said of the turnout. “There was a mix of faculty, students, staff. There were members of the board of trustees there, there were some elected officials there…right after we resumed, classes dispersed, several hundred if not a thousand students came streaming through the middle of it, which nicely accentuated with the purpose of the building.”
In addition to classrooms, there is also space in the building for the relocation of two departments – English, and History of Art and Architecture. According to a DePaul press release, the new offices and classrooms are set to make up for the space lost with the scheduled demolition of McGaw Hall in the near future. The razing of that building will make room for the new School of Music facility.
Inside, Kozlowski said the classrooms are “really nice,” and that compared to the oft-used and older O’Connell and Levan classrooms, are much more comfortable.
“I think the teachers really like [the classrooms] because they’re very open to lecture, and the students like them because their desks aren’t attached to their armchair like in the ancient O’Connell and Levan areas, where you can barely sit down,” Kozlowski said. “Especially when you have a 40 person class over there [in the older building]. You can easily fit 40 people in here.”
Even the non-classroom areas got some attention. Jakubow said she also likes the inside because of the artwork throughout the halls.
“I think it’s more impressive in the inside, because obviously they’re showing this artwork stuff, so it’s kind of like you’re walking in a museum,” she said. “So I like looking at the art I think, mostly, when I come in.”
Also a nice addition: The outdoor patio area across from the Student Center, Jakubow said.
“I especially like the seating outside,” she said. “It’s just very attractive that you can relax there out in the spring.”
Kozlowski agreed, saying the area looked “really great.” But according to him, whichever way you look at it, it is an impressive place.
“This is definitely the building to show off when you bring a new group here,” Kozlowski said. “Standing anywhere around the front of this building…I would want to go here.”