New crane at Undergraduate Library

Big Blue: New Crane Acquired to Use on UGL Renovation

The Undergraduate Library is changing.

The underground facility long used by students is moving most of its resources to the Main Library. Demolition is part of the makeover, and F&S operating engineers play a big role.

As put by The Daily Illini: After it shuts its doors… the Undergraduate Library will be closed for construction as part of a project to transform it into a new “Special Collections Facility” for the University Libraries Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

F&S, with the help of project-specific funds, purchased the crane which is more cost-effective compared to daily rental fees.

“This is a $700,000 piece of equipment that provides F&S with the flexibility and agility to respond to project needs, utility work, and other major construction tasks,” said Pete Varney, director of Transportation & Building Services.

Most campus buildings can now be addressed, across different types of work, including that done for snow removal, utilities and high voltage maintenance, and roofing.


As Above, So Below

Just as with a tall building, cranes can be used to access depth below ground. This new crane enables the crew to remove and insert equipment and supplies to the lower level in the courtyard.

“Our old unit would not reach this area,” said Shawn Patterson, transportation manager.

  • 80-ton capacity
  • 154-foot main boom length
  • 58′ of jib extension
  • Tier-5 Diesel Emissions Rating from Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • Meets new safety standards

Diverting C&D

F&S Zero Waste Coordinator Daphne Hulse works to recycle as much as possible, all across campus. At construction sites, duct work, carpet, and piping, or ‘construction & demolition waste’ (C&D) is diverted from the landfill to recycling. As of early March, 231,936 pounds of materials has been sent to recycling, a 54% diversion rate.

Campus at dusk at the Undergraduate Library.

“This project emphasizes the significance of our ‘end of life’ mindfulness: when we are constructing new spaces or re-imagining old spaces on campus, how can we be more mindful of our environmental footprint,” said Hulse.

Total recyclables: 231,936 pounds; of that, 207,600 is scrap metal (nearly 90%!).

The rest includes 20,236 pounds of… drumroll, please…

Carpet tile!

The carpet’s manufacturer has a “reclamation” program that allowed them to take back and re-use the tiles installed in 2014.

“Zero waste is a holistic ambition, and it depends on our campus community’s collective action,” said Hulse. “Our C&D projects play a crucial role in amplifying and advancing our waste objectives. The UGL project has done a wonderful job, and our numbers corroborate it!”

Why a crane? Corn.

It all goes back to corn.

You can’t talk about the Undergraduate Library without talking about corn.

The famous Morrow Plots, established in 1876, are the oldest experimental crop field in America.

The plots have been so revered for so long as to inspire a song from The Other Guys a capella group. A portion:

No sir we don’t mess around, our library’s underground
Cause you can’t throw shade on the corn.

“The Morrow Plots Song,” The Other Guys

The construction of the late 1960s-built Undergraduate Library is iconic, and different from nearly every other building. The building doesn’t go up in the air, where it would impede sunlight from the corn. So, it was built below.

Documents of the period make reference to the corn that could be “jeopardised by new patterns of wind and shade that would result from an above-grade building.” Landscape and architectural design aesthetics also benefitted UGL.

From An Illini Place: Building the University of Illinois Campus:

“Now, it is true that subterranean buildings were popular at the time. And it is also true that going underground permitted an open plaza on top that would not rival the monumental Main Library and would respect the open mall effect of the South Campus. But the 1969 Undergrad–when built underground–also ‘would not throw shade on the corn.'”