University of Illinois - Burnham Study Hall

Set of vintage 50s and 60s kitchen tables with chairs, pair of old radiator covers repainted with ethnic patterns, pair of ottomans created from 1960s granite benches, colored vinyl tile floor

CHALLENGE

Take an area which acts as a connecting walkway between two buildings and create enticing study spaces while leaving the center clear for the passage of large groups of students during the change of classes. Changing the lighting was out of the scope of the project.

STARTING POINT

  • Grey cinder block walls

  • Beige vinyl tiles

  • Narrow windows

  • Harsh florescent lighting

  • Wall of old lockers

  • Plastic molded seating bench

  • Granite-topped square bench

  • Old metal teacher's desks

  • Old radiators with metal covers

WHAT WE DID

Since the university has an international student body, we decided to center the design around inclusiveness and incorporate motifs and designs from as many cultures as possible so that the space felt welcoming. We also carefully used color to create an oasis in a very gray and drab environment - providing a space where students would enjoy lingering, studying and making connections with others.

 

We started out by painting the walls and replacing the flooring with durable colored vinyl tiles. Because this is a public space and on-going maintenance is a concern, we used a pattern of tiles to create "rugs" to anchor the main seating area and added lines to demark the placement of the tables. All the furniture was sourced from re-sale and antique shops and reupholstered with commercial grade fabrics. To soften the lighting we replaced all the bulbs and inserted colored photography gels.

And then we took the granite-topped bench, along with two additional ones that had been placed in storage and transformed them into giant ottomans. We painted the old metal radiator covers and transformed them into treasure chests. The water fountain was painted with ethnic designs as well as the trash cans. One of our artists created art panels that we securely installed onto the walls and painted patterns around the doorways. The finishing touch were the kites flying playfully along the ceilings.

Before

Before photo of UIC Study Hall
Before photo of UIC Study Hall
Before photo of UIC Study Hall
UIC Study Hall
UIC Study Hall

Yellow cinderblock wall, bird kite, butterfly kite, dragon kite, colorful vinyl tile carpet on floor, vintage deep orange couch with Polish kilims sewn onto the backrest, large square seating ottomans with granite base, vintage coffee tables, two long rectangular art pieces painted with ethnic patterns and images

UIC Study Hall
UIC Study Hall

Long narrow window, yellow cinderblock wall, vintage formica kitchen tables with chairs, green vinyl floor, antique orange couch with two people sitting on it

UIC Study Hall
UIC Study Hall

Yellow cinderblock wall, green vinyl tile floor, large square upholstered seating bench, vintage purple armchair, turquoise vintage loveseat, artwork with orange couch and palm tree

UIC Study Hall
UIC Study Hall

Yellow formica kitchen table with red and grey vinyl kitchen chairs, radiator cover painted to look like ethnic chest, green vinyl tile floor, long narrow windows framed with concrete, geometric colorful kite

UIC Study Hall
UIC Study Hall

Multi-colored vinyl tile floor, long narrow windows, two vintage radiator covers painted to look like ethnic wedding chests, vintage kitchen tables with chairs

UIC Study Hall
UIC Study Hall

Vintage kitchen tables with colorful vintage kitchen chairs, turquoise loveseat, square ottoman

UIC Study Hall
UIC Study Hall

Old radiator cover painted with 5 oval arches in orange and red with repeating ethnic pattern

UIC Study Hall
UIC Study Hall

Custom garbage can embellished with handpainted designs

UIC Study Hall
UIC Study Hall

Vintage deep purple armchair, upholstered large square bench in orange and tangerine, painting of orange couch with palm tree and lattice