nder Henry T. Heald’s presidency, Alumni Memorial Hall—a product of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s “almost nothing” philosophy—served as both an armory and a hub for the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps from its opening in 1946 until 1972. Originally dubbed the Navy Building, it now houses the Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering, yet honors all Illinois Tech alumni who gave their lives in active military service. It is also a testament to the more than 40,000 individuals who completed defense-related training courses at the university during 1941 to 1943 as well as to those in the V-12 Navy College Training Program—a nationwide effort that gave aspiring officers the opportunity to earn bachelor’s degrees at civilian institutions of higher learning.
The building was last renovated in 1972 when it was converted to hold offices. Now standing alongside showcase facilities such as the new Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship and the transformed John T. Rettaliata Engineering Center, Alumni Memorial Hall is overdue for restoration and additional renovation, and is one of President Alan Cramb’s highest fundraising priorities.
“Its slightly quirky assemblage of spaces—different from the other more classically organized buildings on campus—and its standing as the first of Mies’ classroom buildings make Alumni Memorial Hall a very special example of his principals. It reflects the beginnings of the structural expression, scale, and vocabulary that define the historic Mies Campus,” says Steven F. Weiss (ARCH ’73), principal of Weiss Architects. Weiss along with retired corporate business leader Fred Dew (CE ’70) serve as co-chairs of the Alumni Memorial Hall fundraising committee. “The restoration of Alumni Memorial Hall is the next step in preserving Mies Campus and Mies’ heritage as both a great architect and a great educator,” Weiss adds.
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