After a series of delays, the College of Lake County's Science Building is set to open for students when classes resume Jan. 16 after winter break.
The three-story, 41,900-square-foot building was supposed to open for the fall semester as the first part of a $29.9 million building project. But the construction team discovered last summer that windows along the south walls were leaking water, according to Facilities Director Mike Welch.
Workers had to remove several exterior metal panels so they could access the space above the windows and use a liquid paste membrane to fill the cracks.
Welch said they are looking to achieve the highest in environmental standards, so it was especially important that everything is perfect when the building opens.
"The college didn't want to sacrifice quality to speed things up," Welch said.
The building already has drawn the attention of environmentalists.
In June, it received the Emerald Award for Building Innovation from the Illinois chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council for sustainable features that include 187 solar panels and a 1,500-square-foot green roof that reduces rainwater runoff. CLC has won three other environmental awards in the last year and a half.
Another environmental feature the college had planned might not be installed. Plans called for a "living wall," a 370-square-foot interior wall covered with vegetation intended to clean and oxygenate indoor air. Welch said officials have heard from other community colleges that their living walls have attracted bugs and higher-than-anticipated maintenance bills.
"We want to make sure we spend money wisely, making sure we aren't coming in five years later and ripping this thing out," he said.
The building's earlier delays were mostly related to the state's fiscal woes. The plan was for the building to be ready in July 2016, but the state's financial problems delayed the start of work. Just as work began, it was halted again when the budget-less state stopped projects July 1, 2015.
The project is expected to cost about $29.9 million, with CLC paying roughly $12.4 million and the Illinois Capital Development Board contributing about $17.5 million. The price also includes the cost of renovating spaces that now house old science labs.
Welch said CLC science teachers will move materials to their new spaces the week before classes start.
"We were just able to walk the faculty through two weeks ago," Welch said. "It is much larger than what they're currently in and they are excited to have the latest and greatest in technology."