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UIC announces three finalists teams to design $95M performing arts center

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The new building will serve as a new gateway to the university’s east campus

Morphosis/STL/Arup, images courtesy University of Illinois System

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.

Johnston Marklee/UrbanWorks
Johnston Marklee/UrbanWorks
Johnston Marklee/UrbanWorks

Johnston Marklee and UrbanWorks

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.

OMA/KOO
OMA/KOO
OMA/KOO

OMA and KOO

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.

Morphosis/STL/Arup
Morphosis/STL/Arup
Morphosis/STL/Arup

Morphosis, STL, and Arup

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.

Poll

Which design for the UIC Center for the Arts is your favorite?

This poll is closed

  • 31%
    Johnston Marklee and UrbanWorks
    (816 votes)
  • 27%
    OMA and KOO
    (710 votes)
  • 40%
    Morphosis, STL, and Arup
    (1059 votes)
2585 votes total Vote Now