Consisting of the tall women's dorm Wardall Hall and the five story, U-shaped men's dorm Townsend Hall, the Illinois Street Residence Halls at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are often sought after by students, due to the promixity of the halls to the Main Quad and the engineering campus -- as well as its being one of only two air-conditioned residence halls on campus (as of 2002). As such, new students find it very difficult to get assigned there, due to the number of students who continue to live there. ISR, like most UIUC dorm complexes, contains its own dining hall (with food that is often edible!) and twenty-four hour computer center, as well as a weight room, library, and darkroom. All rooms in the complex are either doubles or triples.

ISR was the site of the university's ResNet pilot project in the late 1980's, an effort to bring broadband Internet connections directly to students' rooms -- one of the first state universities to do so. The project gained such widespread praise that eventually every UIUC residence hall room was equipped with such a connection.

Townsend Hall has a (most likely apocryphal) story regarding its construction. The legend is that ISR was originally designed to be two tall identical towers. When ground broke for construction, the crews found that the soil under what would be Wardall Hall was fine, but the soil under Townsend was too soft and sandy to build a tower! Thus, the plans were revised so Townsend became the short U-shaped building it is today, having its weight spread out across a much larger area.


References: the UIUC Housing web pages (http://www.housing.uiuc.edu), but mostly my experience living and working at ISR for two years. More forthcoming as I attempt to dig up research; the housing pages are sadly lacking in historical information.

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