A one-block section of Van Buren Avenue in Naperville closed Monday as work ramps up toward construction of a new science center for North Central College.
Barricades have been installed blocking traffic along Van Buren between Loomis Street on the east and Brainard Street on the west. The road is expected to remain closed until at least April 2017.
North Central College spokesman Ted Slowik said the closure began as crews from Pepper Construction are preparing the site of the future science center -- the southwest corner of Loomis and Van Buren -- for demolition and then construction.
Five houses that were used as offices and one dorm building will be razed to make way for the $60 million, 125,000-square-foot science center. But demolition didn't begin Monday as scheduled.
The change in schedule will allow crews to shut off utility connections and put "safety first," without delaying the date demolition was projected to be finished, Slowik said.
"We are still on a target to complete the demolition by the end of July," Slowik said.
Fencing to keep in dust and debris has been installed around the site where the college plans to open the new science facility by summer 2017.
The science center will have a large lecture hall, 18 teaching labs, 16 research labs, 15 classrooms, 19 student gathering spaces, 53 offices, a greenhouse and a convenience shop.
North Central President Troy Hammond said the facility will be a major upgrade from the 35-year-old Kroehler Science Center, and it will allow the college to teach science in new and interdisciplinary ways.
"This is going to be a fantastic facility that is going to transform North Central College," Hammond said in May when the college hosted a groundbreaking ceremony.
Drivers are asked to use Benton Avenue, which is one block north of Van Buren, as a detour during the road closure. The sidewalk on the north side of Van Buren will remain open, as will the college's parking lot on the south side of Van Buren and the Sesquicentennial Walkway, which runs north/south between Loomis and Brainard.