Just off Michigan Ave, on a mild stretch of Chestnut, there's a fresh new face on the scene. Designed by Gensler, it's the newly-minted addition to Fourth Presbyterian Church. The five-story building, officially known as the Genevieve and Wayne Gratz Center, was built to accommodate office space, meeting rooms, a day school program, and a two-story chapel. Having twice spotlighted the project here at Curbed, we were pretty jazzed when the opportunity arose to tour the final product. And who better to serve as our guide than lead architect Brian Vitale of Gensler? Vitale's contemporary design takes its cues from Fourth Presbyterian without upstaging the iconic, neo-Gothic church. The north and south facades of the new addition are adorned with thousands of pre-patinated copper panels—a clear reference to the copper details found on the roof of the century-old church. Another exterior highlight: a nifty trapezoidal cantilever, which adds a sense of depth to the building's boxy form. The Gratz Center also manages a modest amount of outdoor space, including a playground for day school attendees.
The design of the building's 80,000-square foot interiors is the culmination of a close partnership between Vitale and Interior Design Director Todd Heiser. The main floor facilitates a seamless transition between the new and old buildings, while serving as a gathering space for parishioners and visitors alike. At the far end of the room, an ethereal staircase leads up to a bank of full-height windows with impressive views of the old church. Similar vantage points are scattered throughout the building, which was designed in part to showcase the beauty of Fourth Presbyterian. On the second floor, we encounter the Buchanan Chapel, a dramatic space that functions as a venue for weddings, concerts, and other events. The luminous, all-white chapel is punctuated by a large copper wall; translucent slots of light reference different parts of the Christian calendar; and the floor is imprinted with an intricate pattern inspired by a famous labyrinth in the nave of Chartres Cathedral. Visitors to the chapel are free to meditate or reflect as they traverse the path. The Gratz Center also hosts an array of community outreach programs, including a tutoring program for disadvantaged children. For more info on the new addition, check out the official website or stop by for a visit. Oh, and enjoy the pics!
·Complete Fourth Presbyterian Church coverage [Curbed Chicago]
·The Genevieve and Wayne Gratz Center [Official site]