Around 175 people attended Joliet Junior College’s grand opening for its new City Center Campus on April 11, which featured a ribbon cutting ceremony, tours of the new space, and refreshments made by culinary arts students.
Remarks were given by JJC Board Chairman Bob Wunderlich, JJC President Dr. Judy Mitchell, Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk, Dominick Demonica of Demonica Kemper Architects, and Rosie Cowell, a 2015 culinary arts alumna.
“We could not have done this without the support of our partners at the city, county and state levels—so we thank them for their belief in us and their ultimate investment in the education of our community,” Dr. Mitchell said. “We also owe our gratitude to the citizens within our district that supported our 2008 referendum. Partial funds from that referendum supported this project and as you’ll see today when you tour the campus those dollars were invested wisely in classrooms, learning labs, student support areas, and community gathering spaces.”
Chef Andy Chlebana, JJC culinary instructor and two-time Food Network Challenge champion, created a twist on the traditional ribbon cutting activity by creating a ribbon for trustees to cut made entirely of sugar.
Trustees in attendance included Chairman Wunderlich, Vice Chairman Andy Mihelich, Secretary Maureen Broderick, Trustee Mike O’Connell, and Trustee Alicia Morales.
Designed by Demonica Kemper Architects, the six-story, 96,000 square-foot building at 235 North Chicago Street in downtown Joliet houses the college’s workforce development, GED/ESL training, adult education and culinary arts, all programs that have a direct impact on improving employment opportunities for JJC students and community members.
Guests also toured the newly renovated Renaissance Center which is attached to the new campus. The college renovated the historic Renaissance Center space, which was designed in 1925 by the Chicago-based D.H. Burnham and Co.
Joliet Junior College has had a presence in downtown Joliet since it was established in 1901, with its first location within the current Joliet Central High School blocks away from the new site. When the college formally separated from the high school district and moved out to its current Main Campus location on Houbolt Road in 1967, it wasn’t long before JJC was back in the downtown area: in 1980, the college purchased the Renaissance Center and the adjoining hotel, and formed what was its first City Center Campus for three decades, where it have operated in multiple capacities ever since. The former hotel space that served as the campus will be razed in May.
In addition to centralizing the culinary arts program, allowing growth for additional student support services, and modernized facilities for the adult education and workforce development programs, the new campus offers two new restaurants which are open the public: Thrive on the first floor, which is operated by Chef Tim Bucci and his students, and Saveur, located on the second floor which is led by Chef Paul Bringas and his students.
“We build futures at Joliet Junior College, and I believe the investment we’ve made in our facilities continues to pay off for our students, who now learn and grow in state of the art facilities that enhance their educational experience,” Chairman Wunderlich said. “This campus was a critical piece of that plan, and I am pleased to see our vision realized.”
For more information about the programs housed in the City Center Campus:
Visit JJC Culinary Arts or call (815) 280-1255.
Visit JJC Workforce Development or call (815) 280-1500.
Visit JJC Department of Adult Education and Literacy or call (815) 280-1333.