IIT Underground

An expedition to the forbidden subterranean and superterranean areas of Illinois Tech.

In order to effectively provide all of the necessary services such as heating/cooling, electricity and telecommunications to a large number of buildings in a close proximity, there are 2 common solutions to this engineering problem. The first is burying the necessary pipes and conduits directly, however this tends to make repairs and upgrades difficult. The second and far more common solution is to construct a network of tunnels connecting multiple buildings that allow for the passage of pipes and conduits, as well as very easy access for repairs and upgrades.

The Illinois Institute of Technology campus located in Chicago, IL has been the subject of a significant amount of change, improvement and renovation over the course of a long period of time. While many of the newer buildings on campus do not feature any interesting tunnel connections, the majority of buildings built on the west side of State st. that date back to the 1950's or 1960's are served by a rather extensive service tunnel network. While there is small amount of official documentation acknowledging the existence of these service tunnels in the form of an IIT Magazine article from 2004 (CLEARNET). However, owing to the considerable secrecy and mystery regarding the exact layout and even the existence of some of these tunnels, they have become the subject of many urban legends.

Owing to the curiosity of some of us geeks there have been some efforts of varying success to explore, document and experience this mythical tunnel system first hand. Therefore, some select documentation and photos have been made available that support as well as discredit some of the urban legends regarding such and is otherwise just plain cool in my opinion. However, should you plan to venture into the tunnels or any other undocumented area of campus, there are some potential risks that you should be aware of since staying safe is always of utmost importance as well as not taking part in any actions that may cost anyone undue amounts of time, effort or money or otherwise ruin the experience for others. As a result, there a few things that I would like to mention: