Health and Life Sciences Building is Focus of Elgin Community College Video on Collaboration in Design and Programming

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A new documentary being filmed by a team of videographers at Elgin Community College will feature interviews with staff and students about the learning experience at the award-winning Health & Life Sciences building. The documentary is being filmed by Mario Mercado (see profile below) one of the leading videography students at ECC, in collaboration with department chairs Rick Rodriguez and Tim Kaar.

The video is being produced for presentation to the ECC board in January in celebration of the building’s recognition for design and programming. It will also be edited for entry into the Reel Illinois competition for videography, a statewide contest for higher education filmmakers.

Reel Life Testimonials

ed20494a-4eee-40af-9837-cc9eaae88c8dInterviews with staff, students and graduates of the Health and Life Sciences program will serve to illustrate the real-life bridge between the facility’s academic learning environment and real life careers.

Deb Letizio, Program Director of Medical Imaging described the benefits of the building this way:  ‘We wanted a building that was going to resemble a hospital setting. All of our programs have clinical sites so we wanted facilities here that would prepare our students for the real world.”

To meet that challenge meant close collaboration across a spectrum of program chairs, college leadership, design and construction teams. Kluber Architects and Engineers worked in sync with Kahler Slater, Inc., Cable Tech Design, Horizon Engineering Associates, Walsh Consulting Group, Laflin Design Group and Lamp, Inc. to deliver a facility that has exceeded expectations on many fronts.

Mike Kluber noted in his interview segment that the building serves multiple purposes. “We had two main objectives. The goals for the health services and life sciences programs were the primary purpose of a building, but this building was also designed to be the front door of the campus. That’s an exciting opportunity for a firm like ours to be able to deliver that sort of vision.”

Planning a Labor of Love

Wendy Miller, Dean of Health Professions notes this balance and collaboration was key to the building’s ultimate success. “This building took many years to plan. It was actually a labor of love. We had a great team working on the design, and the overall look we were going for was a hospital environment, so that when students come into the building they feel like they’re in the real setting. We also wanted it to be comfortable and wanted it to be a learning environment where students enjoyed coming and spending quite a bit of time learning their various technical fields.”

Beautiful and Practical

8c4fda64-0225-40d7-8343-9c5f0378fffdCurrent students affirm that philosophy, including Jodi, a nursing student who enthused about the building’s atmosphere as a favorite place to study between classes. “I have a spot the third floor nursing area and there’s kind of an overlook with with a group of chairs. But now that I’ve told you about it everyone is going to go there! It’s nice and quiet and a great place to get lots of natural light and see everything that’s going on around you. Yet you still have kind of a separate place to focus and just read and study. I just love it up there.”

Videographer Mario Mercado

The young man behind the making of the video has a great story of his own to tell. Here’s a profile of the videographer bringing to life the story of the Health and Life Sciences building at ECC. He’s working with professors Rick Rodriguez and Tim Kaar.

A Life in Motion

7754cb27-9785-4584-9121-8f5dcc4d98ecWhen Mario Mercado was 16 years old and in high school, his older brother Jonathan started a videography business filming weddings and quinceañeras. Mario at first tagged along and then got involved in the actual filming. He loved the work of documenting family gatherings and the mood of happy occasions.

He does however recall a few interesting moments, as when a bride and groom were dancing on chairs in a Mexican wedding tradition and both fell off in a heap. That taught Mario that even with careful planning, videography can produce surprising, sometimes unwanted results.


Having an interest in art, Mario enrolled in high school graphic design courses. He had the idea to perhaps attend the Art Institute of Chicago. Then opportunities came along to produce music videos for local rock bands and Mario combined his two interests and started looking for ways to make a career out of making videos.

He learned of the videography program at Elgin Community College and decided to enroll. Professors Tim Kaar and Rick Rodriguez have given him valuable instruction to advance his professional skills while still exploring the artistic side of his personality.

Stepping Up

Now that convergence is coming to fulfillment as Mario Mercado has been selected to film and produce a video about the Health and Life Sciences building, one of the newest and most progressive additions to the Elgin Community College campus.

“Mario has a great work ethic and he has a great ability to tell a story on film,” Rodriguez says.

That story will focus by equal parts on the architecture and the academic programming of the health and life sciences, which specifically recreates hospital settings to train students in nursing, dental, operation room and a broad range of medical technologies. Students in these programs learn how to use equipment and treat patients in real-life settings. The building also houses the life sciences curriculum for biology.

Wendy Miller, EdD and dean of the health professions at ECC, is excited to have the opportunity to showcase the building and its unique programming. “We’re one of a very few community colleges across the country that provides this level of training and preparation for its students.”

Outstanding design

The building’s striking appearance and unique programming structure is earning multiple awards from the architectural and construction industries. Schools & Universities Magazine recognized the building with its Outstanding Design Award while Learning By Design magazine included it in its Award of Excellence category, stating in its article about the award, “A flagship edifice, the facility features a central three-story glass atrium meant to be a glittering ’magnet’ by day and a glowing beacon by night, drawing newcomers to its entrance.”

Bringing People and Architecture Together

It will be Mario Mercado’s job to combine the architectural and programmatic features into a 5-7 minute video featuring interviews with administrators, students and representatives of architectural and construction firms that collaborated with Elgin Community College to design and build the Health and Life Sciences building. These include Kluber Architects + Engineers of Batavia and Lamp, Inc., a construction firm based in Elgin, Illinois.

Mercado has already been busy planning how to use his video and editing skills to create a narrative that will make a compelling presentation to the ECC board as well as an entry in the Reel Illinois Film Competition, a statewide contest for community college videography students. “I keep thinking how I can shoot it, how to capture the building and the people using it,” Mercado says. He has toured the building several times with his instructors planning elements to feature in the narrative. The crew has already invested more than 30 hours in setup, filming, lighting and content planning for the project.


The opportunity to produce the video came about through collaboration between Mary Hatch, dean of liberal, visual and performing arts at Elgin Community College, and Mike Kluber, president of Kluber Architects + Engineers, whose firm also guided the college in earning a Silver LEED Certification for environmental sustainability.

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