Watch Now: Wesleyan University of Illinois Announces New Building to Home Petrick Idea Center | Local education


Anna McBride and John Quarton discuss how IWU’s Petrick Idea Center will enrich students from all disciplines. READ MORE HERE.

BLOOMINGTON – If all goes well, work on the Petrick Idea Center building in Wesleyan University of Illinois could start next year, but inaugural director John Quarton hopes to start providing resources for students to express their creativity long before the building is finished.

IWU announced on Petrick Idea Center to the public on Monday, after a private announcement at the President’s Return Reception Friday.

Quarton started at Wesleyan earlier this school year after retiring from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he worked in an office similar to what will be the Petrick Idea Center. Prior to UIUC, he worked for 25 years at State Farm. He only spent 59 days in retirement, he said.

The center builds on existing trends at the university towards more hands-on, student-led learning, Quarton said.

Big Illinois sophomore company Wesleyan Anna McBride talks about plans for the new Idea Center The Petrick while standing near where it could be located south of State Farm Hall on Monday.

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“It all centers on students finding their own passion,” he said.

Anna McBride, a second year business major, is part of a planning committee that began meeting in December.

The center will provide space and technology for projects and student collaboration, she said. This includes resources commonly found in creative spaces and spread across college campuses, such as computers with graphic design software.

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McBride and Quarton want the center to go beyond that as well. McBride wants the final design to include a lot of outdoor space, and Quarton also wants a stage and a piano. Every discipline and every student should feel welcome at the center, he said.

The center could be an important place for students who are not involved in fine arts programs or other traditionally creative fields to have a place to show their creativity, McBride said.

“(It should be) a place for students who don’t have access to a creative side (…) they can enter it in a safe space,” she said.

In addition to the public part of the new building, it will also include a residential dormitory section.

John Quarton talks about the Petrick Idea Center

John Quarton, the first director of the Petrick Idea Center, speaks Monday about the center near State Fram Hall on the Illinois Wesleyan campus.

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Rather than just being additional accommodation, the dorms will be an integral part of the center, Quarton said. Ideally, students who regularly attend the center will live there.

The students are excited to have a new building on campus, McBride said. It will be the first new building on campus since State Farm Hall was built in 2013 and is expected to be roughly the same size as this building, at around 50,000 square feet.

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The center is named after Dave and Ellen Petrick, who graduated from IWU in 1967 and 1968 respectively. They promised to make the main donation on the building. Marc Talluto, a 1994 graduate, and his wife Noel Talluto also pledged to make a large donation to the building. The aim is for the building to be fully funded by donors.

The final cost is not yet known, Quarton said. Much will depend on the design phase that the school is about to start, as well as the willingness of donors.

“Some donors are already allowing us to dream big,” he said.

McBride and Quarton said that while no design has really started yet, they expect it to be a modern building with lots of windows. Yazdani Studio, specializing in modern and experimental designs, worked with the planning committee.

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Right now, the building should be placed somewhere in the school quad, either in the northeast or southwest corner. Placing him on the quad is important so that he can truly become an integral part of the Bloomington-Normal campus and wider community, Quarton said. The locations underline the interdisciplinary nature of the center.

Contact Connor Wood at (309) 820-3240. Follow Connor on Twitter: @connorkwood

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