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07.23.2013
Unveiled> University of Chicago Dormitory
Studio Gang promotes connectivity and interaction in new student housing project.
Courtesy Studio Gang

Chicago’s celebrated Studio Gang Architects will design a new dormitory complex for the University of Chicago, housing 800 undergraduates across three buildings connected by a common dining area and lawn areas.

“The goal of the design is to encourage more connections and more interactions between people,” Gang said in a statement. Three structures—15, 11, and five stories tall—each about 250 feet long, will be organized around three-story “lounges” that serve the school’s “house system,” meant to encourage community within residence halls.

Mortenson Construction will build the project, which could be open by 2016.

 
 

The LEED Gold development is planned for the space between Greenwood and University avenues, and 55th Street and the Henry Crown Field House. The University will demolish Pierce Tower, a 1960 Harry Weese building that currently occupies the site, beginning in August.

Studio Gang’s design transmutes several trends prevalent on campus.

Its open orientation — airy pathways lace the landscaped courtyards, leading to nearby attractions like the Smart Museum of Art — reaches out to a community that has seen a commercial and cultural boom. In recent years the University has employed design and real estate development in an effort to negotiate its sometimes fraught relationship with the surrounding neighborhoods of Hyde Park, Kenwood, and Woodlawn.

 

The buildings’ graceful curvature and expansive windows speak to the University’s increasingly contemporary architectural portfolio, which includes the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts and the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library, a sweeping steel and glass dome designed by JAHN (then called Murphy/Jahn). Yet beveled concrete edges speak to a sculptural aesthetic that owes much to the University’s gothic heritage.

Gang’s won’t be the only project to swap stodginess for a mix of modernism and homage. The University’s economics department will move into a rehabbed seminary building, in an Ann Beha Architects-directed project that balances gothic regalia with a modern research pavilion along Woodlawn Avenue.

Chris Bentley