College of Lake County board members have hired an architecture firm to handle a planned expansion of the school's Lakeshore campus in Waukegan that may cost up to $47 million.
Board members reviewed presentations from three finalists and asked questions at a meeting Monday before selecting Legat Architects.
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Chairman Richard Anderson said it was a close call between Chicago-based Legat, HOK and Skidmore, Owings and Merrill.
Anderson said board members reviewed "fascinating" artist renderings for the Lakeshore campus from all three firms.
"It could be a centerpiece for the city of Waukegan," he said.
Legat will negotiate its price with the Illinois Capital Development Board, which oversees the design and construction of new elementary and high schools, college and university facilities, public safety centers and other government structures.
The Lakeshore campus expansion had a tentative $47 million cost in Grayslake-based CLC's draft master plan released in February.
Anderson said the state would cover 75 percent of the Lakeshore campus project in downtown Waukegan, with CLC covering the balance. He said the board had to act quickly to select an architect at Monday's special meeting so there is a chance for CLC to receive project funding from the Illinois Jobs Now! program this year.
Library expansion, a full complement of student services and a culinary/hospitality program with a restaurant are among the possibilities for the Lakeshore campus project. Preliminary plans also have included a lecture hall suitable for community gatherings.
In a presentation last September for a proposed, updated master facilities plan, Legat architect Steven Brubaker floated the idea of building a spherical glass building that would make CLC's Waukegan campus a destination for visitors.
More than 100 architecture firms participated in a proposal conference regarding the Lakeshore campus expansion, Anderson said. A CLC committee winnowed the field to 11 or so, then selected the three finalists that appeared Monday.
"It was like, 'Wow, there is a lot of interest here,'" Anderson said.
At CLC's Grayslake campus, construction is planned for a new science building and renovation to existing facilities.
Gov. Pat Quinn announced last December he approved a $17.8 million state grant for the science building, with the college picking up an estimated $5.8 million balance.