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University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Natural History Building

Restoration The use of restored, reclaimed, and salvaged materials and elements return the Student Hub and the Grand Stairs to their original grandeur.

The renovation transformed a deteriorated historic building into a modern academic and research facility, while preserving the inherent quality of one of the oldest buildings on campus.

Urbana, Illinois
Scope of Services
Interior Design


154,000 SF

Construction Type

Special Recognition
Preservation and Conservation Association Heritage Award
Best Comprehensive Restoration Project, International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers
RetroFit Magazine, feature

The Natural History Building on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Three major building additions since 1984 have created a complex of distinct structural systems and disparate, inefficient spaces. An urgent need to structurally stabilize a portion of the complex prompted LCM’s comprehensive renovation.

The project also presented an opportunity to unify a fragmented interior, improve navigation, and thoroughly modernize the building while reviving its historic character. The School of Earth Science and the Environment and the School of Integrative Biology share sustainability, nature, and tradition as common values. These themes guided design decisions. Spaces are visually and functionally unified through thoughtful use of light, color, and materials selection. 

Flexible, dynamic spaces integrate contemporary tools to accommodate collaborative learning and teaching methods. Sustainable strategies focused on energy efficiency, occupant comfort, and preserving the building’s’ historic character.

The successful fusion of modern and traditional is apparent throughout the building.

“As we finally got underway with classes last week, I paused to reflect on our shared long journey. I want to thank you (LCM Architects) so much for all the effort you expended in making NHB such a wonderful reality. Everyone loves it! It is through your vision, hard work, and dedication that it is so. You were always there when we needed your input and advice. Thanks!”
– Carol Augspurger, Associate Director of Academic Affairs, School of Integrative Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
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