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Students rave about UIC’s new $100 million dorm

Students began moving into the Academic and Residential Complex Wednesday morning.

View of downtown from a lounge in the new Academic and Residential Complex at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Students have a nice view of downtown from a lounge in the new Academic and Residential Complex at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Stefano Esposito/Sun-Times

Anthony Abrams opened the door and grinned – much like the subject of a home makeover show who has just seen his ramshackle abode transformed into a palace.

“Oh my God, this looks like a hotel,” said Abrams, 18.

That was a common reaction Wednesday, as dozens of freshmen began hauling their mini-refrigerators, prized posters, books, clothes and other possessions into the University of Illinois at Chicago’s new $100 million Academic and Residential Complex.

Dormitories don’t look like they used to – particularly for those who recall a shared room not much larger than a jail cell. And the glittering glass-and-steel UIC facility, with living space for 550 students, stands in stark contrast to much of the rest of campus, which wouldn’t look out of place in George Orwell’s bleakest of novels, “1984.”

Anthony Abrams (red shirt) and roommate Daniel Krzysiak moving into their new dorm room at UIC.
Anthony Abrams (red shirt) and roommate Daniel Krzysiak brought plenty of stuff to fill their new UIC dorm room.
Stefano Esposito/Sun-Times

Susan Teggatz, the UIC’s director of campus housing, oversaw Wednesday’s mass move-in, like an army general directing a small invasion.

“Oh, why don’t they have the street closed?” she groused at one point, looking out at Harrison Street, which was supposed to be shut Wednesday morning between Morgan and Halsted streets.

From time to time, she issued orders into a walkie-talkie. But mostly, she gushed about the technological wonders of the new facility, which also has a 228-student lecture hall and a Starbucks on the first floor.

The dorm’s housing rates for this academic year range from $9,550 for a double room to $13,560 for a single room in a “semi-suite.” Meal plans are extra.

Nicole Nolden, 17, of Libertyville, with her mother, Jill Nolden, inside her dorm room at UIC’s new Academic and Residential Complex
Nicole Nolden, 17, of Libertyville, chats with her mother, Jill Nolden, inside her dorm room at UIC’s new Academic and Residential Complex Wednesday.
Stefano Esposito/Sun-Times

Up on the second floor, Nicole Nolden, 17, and her mother, Jill Nolden, were checking out her new dorm room — a “traditional double” that shares a bathroom with an adjoining dorm room.

“The view is amazing – you can see the Willis Tower,” the freshman from Libertyville said.

On Wednesday morning, Nolden had yet to meet the woman with whom she would likely spend at least the next year. Nolden glanced at a stack of books on the other woman’s desk, paying particular attention to a volume titled, “How to Win An Argument.”

“That’s not cute,” joked Nolden, who plans to study biological sciences.

UIC students Anthony Abrams (center) and Daniel Krzysiak (right) get help unloading their possessions into their UIC dorm room.
UIC students Anthony Abrams (center) and Daniel Krzysiak (right) get help from a student volunteer as they unload their possessions into their UIC dorm room on Wednesday.
Stefano Esposito/Sun-Times

Advised her mother: “Just clean up after yourself and be polite.” She then confided: “She’s a pretty good kid. She’ll be fine. She knows her p’s and q’s.”

Up on the fifth floor, Abrams and his buddy since grade school, Daniel Krzysiak, were unloading what looked like enough clutter to fill three or four dorm rooms – including a guitar and a poster of former Chicago Bears linebacker — and ubiquitous hair replacement spokesman — Brian Urlacher.

Kryzysiak began dragging Abrams’ 42-inch TV out of a box.

“Be careful with that,” said Abrams, who is from Oak Lawn.

“It’s the most important thing here,” his buddy replied.

Academic and Residential Complex at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Students began moving into dorm rooms at the Academic and Residential Complex at the University of Illinois at Chicago on Wednesday.
Stefano Esposito/Sun-Times