Esteemed Chicago architect Jeanne Gang unveiled the design plan for the new University of Chicago North Campus Residence Hall and Dining Commons this past Tuesday. Created by Studio Gang Architects and Mortenson Construction, the stunning $148 million project is expected to open in the fall of 2016 where Harry Weese's Pierce Tower currently stands.
The new structures intend to create a welcoming "front door" to the University of Chicago campus and function as an easy gateway to surrounding communities like Hyde Park. Each building towers at 15, 11, and 5 stories, at 250 feet in length, and will house about 800 students. A diagonal path will connect the project to the nearby Smart Museum of Art and the businesses on 55th Street. Gang's project will also include designated retail spaces.
The bent-rectangular form and windowed exterior give the structures a rejuvenating contemporary appeal without being pretentious--an ideal combination for the modern college student. At the same time, Gang also incorporated into her design both Gothic and brutalist elements as seen in Weese's Pierce Tower, a high-rise built on the campus in 1960.
Based on the university's House System, which fosters a strong sense of community between residents and resident staff, the new plan has a multitude of distinct features to accommodate the community's needs: a 3-story lounge area known as "House Hubs", private room and kitchen facilities for older undergrads wanting a more independent living experience, multi-purpose rooms, offices, open courtyards, and a top-floor reading room that offers panoramic views of the Chicago skyline and Lake Michigan.
Gang and her firm were chosen by the university to build the new residence hall after a rigorous selection process. In recent years, Gang has slowly gained recognition for a number of her projects in the Chicago area, most notably the Aqua Tower.
Things continue to be looking up for Gang in her latest project. University officials have begun preparing documents for the city's approval. Demolition of the Pierce Tower is set to begin next month.