When one thinks of architectural splendor, the names Avondale or the Kennedy Expressway may not immediately come to mind, however Northeastern Illinois University may have just changed the game for the northwest side neighborhood. After two years, the school has finally opened its sleek, state-of-the-art El Centro satellite campus building in time for the fall semester. Between the sci-fi shape and blue and yellow fins, the three-story building looks different from practically every angle. Designed by Juan Gabriel Moreno of Chicago's own JGMA Ltd., the new El Centro will continue its former location's role as an anchor for the city's Latino community, offering coursework ranging from ESL to computer science.
While some critics wonder if the building is a glorified billboard for NEIU, Moreno told WTTW's Chicago Tonight that the new El Centro is "a chance for architecture to have a dialogue along the expressway, instead of another billboard." However, it's not uncommon for universities to drop some serious cash on important architectural projects. DePaul University has recently completed one Pelli Clarke Pelli designed building for its Lincoln Park campus, and has a downtown arena designed by the same star architects in the works. Meanwhile the University of Chicago has a new arts center designed by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, and has some new Studio Gang designed dorms on the way.
— Jason Prechtel