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UIC selects OMA and KOO to design $95M performing arts center

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The winning submission features a translucent fabric roof with built-in solar panels

Images courtesy of OMA/KOO

The University of Illinois at Chicago has announced a winning team in its design competition for a new $95 million Center of the Arts, selecting a joint submission from OMA and KOO Architecture.

Slated for the northwest corner of Halsted and Harrison streets, the 88,000-square-foot building features a pair of glass towers—meant to evoke Chicago’s bridges—supporting a translucent fabric roof with embedded photovoltaic cells. The angled shape of the tent-like membrane follows the movement of a conductor’s baton, according to its designers.

Inside, the new facility will offer a 500-seat concert hall with a terraced “vineyard-style” configuration, a 270-seat flexible theater, rehearsal spaces, production workshops, an exhibition hall, a donors lounge, and a jazz club cafe. The layout stresses accessibility and features large ramps connecting both indoor and outdoor performance space.

The project is the second Chicago building from New York architecture firm OMA, which also designed IIT’s distinctive tube-shaped McCormick Tribune Campus Center. Chicago-based KOO Architecture, meanwhile, is behind a number of local projects including Streeterville’s Hotel EMC2 as well as the upcoming Navy Pier hotel.

“Our design focuses on fostering dialogue between performance and the public,” said OMA’s Shohei Shigematsu of in a statement. “The new building will be a connector between the city and UIC’s urban campus.”

A total of 36 architecture firms participated in UIC’s design competition. The winning submission beat out two finalist collaborations by Morphosis/STL Architects and Johnston Marklee/UrbanWorks. More information and additional renderings of the OMA/KOO proposal can be found here.

UIC hasn’t revealed when it plans to begin construction on the new center. The school is currently in the process raising $94.5 million of private and public required to build the Near West Side facility.

The design blends indoor and outdoor spaces.
Common areas provide places for students to collaborate and perform.
The vineyard-style seating of the concept hall is inspired by agricultural terraces.
The flexible theater faces the Chicago skyline.