Wassaja Hall - CODAworx

Wassaja Hall

Submitted by Mackey Mitchell Architects

Client: University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Location: Urbana-Champaign, IL, United States

Completion date: 2016

Artwork budget: $4,000,000

Project Team


Lea McRoberts

Mackey Mitchell Architects


Nick Naeger

Mackey Mitchell Architects


Greg Keppel

Mackey Mitchell Architects


Opening in 2016, Wassaja Hall is the newest residence hall in University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign's revitalized Ikenberry Commons neighborhood. The new $67.2 million, 150,000 square foot, 4-story hall provides 504 beds. Amenities include community kitchens, a gaming area and a music practice room. Each floor features lounges and studies of various sizes and layouts, accommodating the myriad levels of student introversion/extroversion. The bright accent walls, furniture, textiles, and patterns found throughout encourage the sense of community for residents.


Wassaja Hall is named after the university's first Native American graduate and accomplished advocate for Native American rights. An art installation at the building's entrance intentionally draws connection to Wassaja's notable life, reflecting the ideals of individuality, inclusivity, and making one's own path in the world. The building's courtyard features sculptures by artist Lynn Basa. Titled "The Long Way Home", the work features stones from Wassaja's birthplace and replicated Yavapai baskets. The interiors are truly inspired, creatively using bold colors and patterns to encourage a sense of community. Reclaimed wood paneling, created from logs felled in the 1800's from the bottom of Moosehead Lake in Maine, is used on walls throughout the first floor lobby, underscoring Wassaja's 1884 graduation date and adding warmth to social spaces.


Wassaja Hall is the result of a strategic plan completed by Mackey Mitchell and partner firm FGM to provide a reinvestment and renovation framework for aging, outdated housing facilities. The plan provides for the unique needs of today's students - encouraging inclusivity, diversity, and accessibility like never before. The design team engaged students to help inform the interiors, resulting in a dynamic color palette unique to each floor.

Additional Information

Wassaja Hall was thoughtfully designed to offer the highest levels of accessibility and inclusion possible, reflecting the emerging priorities of today's students. The building goes above and beyond ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) guidelines, not only making daily life easier for disabled students but allowing true individuality, outside of disability, to shine through. As part of a larger campus initiative the hall features a unit type with a Sure Hands mobility system for a severely disabled student. The project features gender-inclusive rooms, single-user bathrooms on each floor, and bedrooms arranged in a pod-type configuration, offering a community-oriented experience.