The University of Chicago is recognizable for its use of quadrangles within the building forms and plans of campus. This addition of The Smart Museum is inspired by the quadrangle organization as a way of framing views of the surrounding campus and landscape, giving depth to the site.
The design proposal focuses on four major program areas of the museum addition; exhibition space, administration and service, food service, and multi-purpose space. The four areas act as destinations for users within the site. The form of the building is determined by logically organizing the four program areas and then folding the landscape into the building. The result is a series of floor to ceiling glass lined voids that frame views of the outside into the program areas and from the inside out to the landscape and campus beyond.
It is important not be overwhelmed by the addition. The central courtyard between the Cochrane-Woods Art Center and the Smart Museum services as a connection point across the site to Ellis Avenue. The placement of the addition on the site maintains an open view to the existing courtyard, framed by a bridge connecting the north and south portions of the new building. The bridge draws visitors into the site and into the buildings entries.
While the new addition is bold in its form and contemporary in its materials, its voids and frames are a nod to the traditional quadrangle system and help to connect the addition not only to the Smart Museum, but to the larger campus.
Status: School Project