September 7, 2021
Coming in at no. 79 in our Top 100 Projects is the Epstein-designed and engineered 215,000-square-foot convocation center for Northern Illinois University. Located on a 52-acre site adjacent to the current campus, the multi-purpose center is envisaged as the focal point of the future 200-acre west campus.
The building features a 9,000-seat arena, which is convertible via retractable seating to a 50,000-square-foot exposition center, as well as a 10,000-seat concert venue, or an indoor track and field facility featuring a 6-lane, NCAA-quality running track. Four private skyboxes and a 100 person club room overlooking the arena are also included.
In addition to the arena, other facilities include: 16,000-square-foot/800-seat practice gym, 11 locker shower rooms for various home and visiting teams, complete athletic training facilities, media facilities, concessions, and parking for 3,000 cars.
When the convocation center was under construction, it marked the largest single capital improvement project in Northern's 100-year history. The $38 million investment was not just an investment in a facility, the center also marks a shift in perspective; a focus on the west campus as a new center for living and learning. The convocation center serves as an anchor to the future development of the university's campus, providing the impetus for revitalized community surrounding the facility.
As the center for social, academic and athletic events on campus, the convocation center is the only venue that can bring the university community together at one place and one time to share an experience - the very definition of community.