Elgin plans $6M expansion of Hemmens Center

Architect aims to modernize mid-century building

Rendering of the Hemmens Cultural Center (City of Elgin, Getty)
Rendering of the Hemmens Cultural Center (City of Elgin, Getty)

Elgin plans to spend $5.8 million to expand a performing arts center, modernizing a building constructed in the 1960s.

Geneva, Illinois-based Allen + Pepa Architects aimd to add a 9,500-square-foot, two-story addition to the north side of the Hemmens Cultural Center, the Courier-News reported. About $3.1 million of the project’s cost will be covered by state funding.

State congress members Sen. Cristina Castro and Rep. Anna Moeller secured funding for the project in Elgin, 35 miles northwest of Chicago, that will renovate the structure and add an inverted wing to update it.

Architect Eric Pepa (Allen Pepa)

Architect Eric Pepa (Allen Pepa)

“This has been kind of in the minds of various people for 20-plus years, so there’s a lot of thought that’s gone into this,” architect Eric Pepa told the outlet.

Inspired by the modernist styles of the mid-20th century, the building’s renovation and expansion will add a contemporary look that doesn’t detract from the original design.

“It’s iconic,” Pepa said of the entertainment venue’s architectural style. “We didn’t want to alter that too much.”

The project will include adding a new lobby, an exterior box office, outdoor balcony, office space and a new entrance on the north side. There will also be a large space for intermissions and private gatherings that’s equipped with a bar. There are also plans to add ramps and handicap-accessible restrooms on the main level, something patrons have criticized for years, Pepa said.

The City Council has given preliminary approval to a $470,000 contract with Cordogan, Clark & Associates to oversee the architecture, engineering and construction. Work is set to begin later this month and construction will begin early next year, heading for completion by September 2023.

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— Victoria Pruitt