CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Interactive Design Architects, a Chicago-based architecture firm, has been selected to design the rebuilt Bruce D. Nesbitt African American Cultural Center on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus. Originally located at the intersection of Mathews Avenue and Nevada Street in Urbana, the center occupies temporary quarters at 51 E. Gregory Drive, but will be rebuilt at its original site.
Founded in 1992, Interactive Design Architects (IDEA) has designed projects including museums, libraries, facades, zoo habitats, academic institutions and municipal buildings.
“When we got the call that we were short-listed, I said, ‘Somebody pinch me,’” said Dina Griffin, IDEA’s president and a 1986 Illinois alumna with a degree in architecture. “To be able to design a new cultural center on a campus where my education as an architect began is priceless.”
The center is named for Bruce D. Nesbitt, who led the U. of I.'s Afro-American Cultural Program for 22 years. The permanent location for the center, with an anticipated total project cost of $4.9 million, is included in the 2007 Campus Master Plan Update. Slated to open in 2018, the new facility will be funded through donations, student fees and institutional funds.
“I was in the architecture studio for much of my time on campus, listening to WBML, but my friends spent more time at the Bruce D. Nesbitt African American Cultural Center, and I know its importance as a haven, a home away from home,” said Griffin, who is African-American and has served as the firm’s president since 1999. “I come from a diverse community and attended diverse schools, but for many students, the center is a tremendous asset. It’s a great way for students of many backgrounds to transition, to find a place of understanding.”