NORMAL, Ill. (AP) — Illinois State University officials say a $33 million renovation project will create a more welcoming atmosphere for the campus.

Construction on the 44-year-old Bone Student Center began a couple weeks ago, but a formal groundbreaking is scheduled for Friday, The Pantagraph reported.

Vice President for Student Affairs Levester Johnson said the student center's upgrades will "transform the experience and your perception of the campus and how you're being welcomed."

Renovation plans include improvements to the west entrance with a reception area for event attendees, construction of a new east entrance and redevelopment of the Brown Ballroom.

"It really does make a front door to our campus," said David Gill, director of facilities planning. "We're enthusiastic about it. We think it will be a big improvement for the campus."

Renovation plans also call for a "grand staircase" that will be aligned with the overpass to take people to the main section of the campus.

"Imagine walking up that staircase and seeing the quad in all its grandeur," Johnson said.

The staircase will include an accessible ramp and pathway to an elevator, said Gill.

The project will be divided into three phases. The first phase is expected to last through February 2019.


Information from: The Pantagraph,