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Ford Center for the Fine Arts

Knox College announces plans for new Green Oaks multipurpose field station

Knox College has officially announced plans for a new multipurpose facility at the Green Oaks Biological Field Station.

Located near the Spoon River in eastern Knox County, 20 miles east of the Knox campus, Green Oaks is both a research and recreation area owned by the College. It encompasses 700 acres of forest, grassland, and aquatic habitat. Beginning in 2024, Green Oaks will be home to a newly constructed facility that will be available for year-round use by both the Knox and Galesburg communities.

The new facility will feature sleeping rooms for up to 16 students or guests, a small director’s suite, a large kitchen, modern bathrooms, and laundry facilities. The residential side of the building will be connected to the program side of the building with a four-season porch that will provide additional flexible space for everything from gear storage to study groups and recreation. The program side of the building will provide two classroom spaces with flexible furnishings that can be arranged to meet the needs of any program or event. Both classrooms will be equipped with the technology to support classes in any discipline, as well as ample storage and a restroom. 

The entire facility will be nearly three times the size of the current Schurr Hall and have heating and cooling. 

Funding for this project was generously provided by an anonymous lead donor who was inspired by the impact of immersive learning. Work has been done over the last several months between the designers at Farr Associates in Chicago and many members of the Knox community to develop plans for a flexible and modern facility. 

“I am grateful to our anonymous donor who has provided this opportunity for us to build and expand upon the unique experiences we offer here at Knox. I also want to thank the faculty and staff who have worked together over the last year to provide advice and expertise on how to make this new space at Green Oaks a place where every member of our community can grow and learn,” said Knox College President C. Andrew McGadney.

Knox students at Lombard Middle School

Knox students have participated in the Green Oaks term for decades. During the term, students maintain residency at the field station for 10 weeks in the spring. The new facility will provide an enhanced experience for many more members of the Knox community. The facility will also be available for small group retreats, long-term programs, interdisciplinary learning experiences, recreational use, local school groups, and much more. 

Many of the trees marked for removal in the construction area are black locusts, a species of tree not native to central Illinois. Decisions on which trees to remove and where to site the building were made thoughtfully and in consultation with members of our community who know the land best. 

“We have a lot of trees coming down that are invasive to the area. Sacrificing those trees is a positive change for the construction site to keep them from encroaching on the prairies,” said Stuart Allison, director of the Green Oaks Biological Field Station, Watson Bartlett Professor of Biology and Conservation, and chair of mathematics at Knox. 

Selective tree removal for this project will begin very soon, with construction of the facility beginning directly thereafter. 

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Printed on Wednesday, June 12, 2024