Ongoing housing commons remodeling project


Photographs courtesy of Tiffany Chin

Sean Blackwell , Staff Writer

The remodeling project at the Homer L. Butler Commons, where the Department of Residence Life Housing Office has been located since 1992, is a work in progress, but it should be finished by Sept. 21.

According to the Director of Residence Life John Ringle, the Homer L. Butler Commons was named after the first vice chancellor for student affairs, when the university was known as Sangamon State University.

“The Homer Butler Commons was built as a housing office, community center, that sort of thing for the residents,” said Ringle, “Over the years, it morphed from Butler Commons to HCOMM, as in the Housing Commons.”

When it is up and running, HCOMM is the administrative office of the Department of Residence Life.

Prior to the current remodeling project, which began in recent months, HCOMM has undergone three phases of renovations, including office additions in 2010, and siding replacements, patio additions, and  roof and skylight repairs in 2014.

The third phase, which is ongoing, involves upgrading “the 1992 heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning system and the bathrooms,” Ringle said.

“The system from ’92 basically was vented into the attic…. The air-condition and heating units were in the attic, so [one] had to get through a crawl space to have people service them or replace them,” Ringle said, “So we brought them down to the ground floor in some of that common area…and made a mechanical room for the HVAC system. And now we won’t have dead zones of heat/cold, depending on the season.”

Along with this, the ductwork was upgraded to meet modern standards, and the bathrooms were updated to the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act. A second conference room and additional office space were also added, with the intention of “bringing all of our staff together in one location,” according to Ringle. He also noted that the new conference rooms may be used as additional classrooms.

When the project is completed, students will still be able to watch television, study, and meet with others in the building. The pool tables, however, will no longer be in HCOMM when it reopens.

Mail distribution will resume at HCOMM when it reopens, and the Residence Life administrative offices will all be “consolidated in the building,” Ringle said.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story indicated that the remodeling project may not be completed until the end of the fall semester. The article has been updated to reflect that the expected completion date is Sept. 21.