The University of Illinois at Chicago has tapped three finalist teams of architects that will compete to design a new $95 million Center of the Arts for the Near West Side school.
Envisioned as a new public face of UIC’s east campus, the project is slated for a vacant lot at the northwest corner of Halsted and Harrison streets—a highly visible site just west of the Jane Byrne Interchange and east of the soon-to-open Harrison Hall dormitory complex.
The roughly 88,000-square-foot building will be primarily used by the UIC’s School of Theatre & Music. The new center will offer students, faculty and visitors a 500-seat concert hall, a 270-seat reconfigurable theater, an exhibition hall, rehearsal spaces, and a combination cafe and jazz club.
Below is a quick overview at three finalist designs from the teams of Johnston Marklee/UrbanWorks, OMA/KOO, and Morphosis/STL/Arup.
The Los Angeles-based firm led by Mark Lee and Sharon Johnston, who served as the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial artistic co-directors, partnered with local designer UrbanWorks on a two-pyramid design connected by enclosed winter garden and rehearsal spaces. The stepped massing, especially the “inverted” eastern volume, is a strong visual nod to the nearby Brutalist architecture Walter Netsch created for the UIC campus in the 1960s. But instead of raw concrete, the Johnston Marklee/UrbanWorks submission is clad in a glass and undulating perforated metal facade.
This tent-like concept from New York architecture firm OMA and Chicago’s KOO LLC comprises a pair of glassy towers anchoring a sloping fabric roof. The semi-translucent canopy would cover a six-sided concert hall, an eastern theater wing with a rooftop terrace offering downtown views, and a campus-facing park to the west. The two-tower design is meant to evoke Chicago’s bridges, and the geometry of the roofline is inspired by the movement of a conductor’s baton.
A joint venture between LA’s Morphosis Architects, Chicago’s STL Architects, and global design and engineering firm Arup submitted arguably the most avant-garde of the bunch. Supported by stilts that give the appearance of hovering above the ground, the angular design features a burnt orange facade punched with a pixelated array of small windows. The interior features a grand staircase with stadium seating and a lobby with an angled wall of glass providing views of Chicago’s downtown skyline.
The public can take a closer look at the three designs at UIC’s Center for the Arts competition website as well as submit feedback. University leadership expects to select a winner before the end of the month.
Which design for the UIC Center for the Arts is your favorite?
This poll is closed
Johnston Marklee and UrbanWorks
OMA and KOO
Morphosis, STL, and Arup