College of DuPage architecture alumna helps transform McCormick Place for COVID-19 patients
In just two weeks, hundreds of workers converted McCormick Place from a convention center to a medical facility with 2,250 rooms to treat COVID-19 patients. College of DuPage Architecture alumna Michelle Binet had the unique experience of working on the design team as an architectural designer at AECOM where she works full-time.
"My team and I, along with hundreds of others, including the Illinois National Guard and the Army Corps of Engineers, worked nonstop trying to get everything designed and constructed before the first wave of patients arrived," she said. "I've never worked on a project quite like this. It has been incredibly rewarding to see a project come to fruition this quickly with the help of so many hardworking and passionate people."
Binet's main responsibilities included architectural drafting and design, code review and managing accessibility requirements for different parts of the building, including entry and exit cleaning rooms, staff lounges and medical locker rooms. In addition, she helped redesign meeting rooms to meet the needs of the support staff which include the mayor's office and houses the facilities command centers.
With construction nearing completion, contracted medical personnel are already treating COVID-19 positive patients with low to moderate symptoms. By the end of April, 3,000 beds will be available to treat patients, as well as 500 negative pressure tents that bring in clean air and stop air inside the tent from escaping, Binet said.
"Hopefully we won't have to use all the beds and rooms available, but I'm glad to know we are helping patients who may need support," she said. "Let's all do our part in flattening the curve and reduce burden on the local health care systems."
Binet credits her passion for architecture to her experience in COD's Architecture program.
"The professors in the program created a studio family," she said. "They created the foundation that I needed to push myself to be a better student and to stand on my own when I transferred to a bigger university. If not for the faculty at COD guiding me along the way, I don't know where I would be in my career."
COD Architecture Professor Mark Pearson was impressed with Binet's skills in the program and enjoys following her professional endeavors.
"We are very extremely proud of our Architecture alumni, like Michelle, who are using their professional expertise to make a difference in our communities and helping to support our health care system during this global crisis," he said.
The architecture program at COD provides students with the artistic, technical, technological and theoretical expertise necessary for careers and further education in architecture and related fields. Students can choose between a number of degree and certificate programs that will enable them to pursue careers and upgrade skills in a variety of disciplines. In addition, the program includes pre-architecture programs that offer affordable tracks toward earning advanced degrees from baccalaureate-granting or professional architecture programs.
Learn more about the COD Architecture program at www.cod.edu/architecture.