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Bone Student Center Becomes ISU's New ‘Front Door’

Illinois State University rededicated Bone Student Center on Friday after a $33 million renovation that was in the works for more than a decade.

The project, which started in 2017, included the addition of new meeting and event spaces, new restaurants, new offices for student support services and a revamped bookstore.

Erin Watts portrait
Illinois State University
Erin Watts

Erin Watts, assistant director for ISU’s event management, dining and hospitality, said the new east-side entrance serves as the new front door to campus.

“We want folks when they arrive on campus to know this is Illinois State University and we think the updated exterior and interior entrances reflect more of that now,” Watts said.

She said before the renovation, the 48-year old building no longer met the needs of today's students — it only had one previous, minor renovation in the 1970s.

“It was a very dark design. It was actually called a brutalist design,” Watts explained.

The redone student center now uses more natural light and open-concept seating areas.

The concourse improvement project, which came after the redesign of the east and west positions of Bone Student Center, cost $11 million.

“We made a beautiful three-story addition on the east side. We renovated the west exterior, we updated the Brown Ballroom, but then in the middle of the building it was still the older design, so it didn’t have much cohesion and we wanted it to look like a seamless project,” Watts said.

She said the renovations were paid for with reserve funds, primarily from campus dining services.

“No student fees were used for the project,” Watts said.

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