Elevators may come to GDH, Old Main

Over the years, the accessibility of the Knox campus for disabled students has been questioned. When a disabled student signs up for a class, the course is often moved to the first floor of a campus building. While this is a problem that is easily solved, others are not so quick to fix.

In coming years, Knox aims to make the campus more accessible by installing elevators in GDH and Old Main with the money the school hopes to get from the Illinois State Capital Appropriation Bill.

However, whether or not the school will definitely get that money, and when it would get it, is still in question.

“We still don’t know when [the funds] are going to be released,” said Vice President of Finance Tom Axtell. He also said that if the money from the state becomes available and the elevators comply with historical, architectural and state guidelines, then they would proceed with the project.

“We don’t know exactly what constraints are going to be put on them,” Axtell said.

Each elevator will cost between $400,000 and $500,000 to construct. If the state budget does not come through, the alternative would be to use the school’s internal budget.

Director of Facilities Services Scott Maust said he hopes the construction to begin this coming summer, but realizes that the summer of 2011 is more likely.

“It’s all dependent on financing,” said Maust. “It will take a couple of months to put them in.”

Maust also said that renovations of any kind made to the school are required to be accessible and that he has heard of more disabled students having issues with sidewalks. Specifically, brick sidewalks and those without smooth curbs present problems. Should a student in a wheelchair want to host a radio show on the fourth floor of GDH, this would also present difficulties.

The elevator shaft in Old Main would be in the place where Director of the Center of Research and Advanced Studies Stephen Bailey’s secretary’s office is. The issue of space has also been considered in the construction of these elevators.

In GDH, there is already an existing elevator shaft. The first elevator would be installed in GDH, and then offices would ideally be moved to the fourth floor of GDH after the radio station relocates. This would hopefully clear up space for offices displaced by the installation of the other elevator in Old Main.

Amongst other things that the state funds would be used for if approved are sprinkler systems in more campus buildings and also the renovation of Wallace Lounge. While the sprinkler systems are a state-required modification, Axtell said Wallace Lounge is something that he would like to see come back into use.

“We’re trying to phase in Wallace Lounge over this year and next year. I’m hoping that Wallace Lounge and the elevators take priority,” he said.

Annie Zak

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