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University of Chicago wellness center takes shape behind historic gothic columns

The contemporary structure will be tucked behind the building’s existing gothic cloister

A glass structure standing at the center of a landscaped courtyard in the middle of a historic stone building.
Visitor enter the new wellness center through the courtyard of the old Lying-In Hospital building.
Images courtesy Wight & Company

An old collegiate gothic style building on the University of Chicago’s Hyde Park campus is getting a modern makeover as a student wellness center designed by Chicago-based architecture firm Wight & Company.

Work recently began on the 30,000-square-foot project to renovate a portion of the ground floor of the existing Lying-In Hospital building and bring a contemporary glass addition to its courtyard at the northeast corner of 59th Street and Maryland Avenue. The older limestone-clad structure was completed by architects Schmidt, Garden & Erickson in late 1920s as a ground-breaking obstetrics facility. It later merged with the University of Chicago Clinics.

The contemporary, skylit addition is set back from the street and preserves the older structure’s stone walls as interior corridors. The original colonnade, which has been closed off for decades, will reopen and serve as the center’s entrance. When completed in the fall of 2020, the renovated facility will house the school’s student health, counseling, and wellness resources under one roof.

“We’re updating a historic building to enable the University of Chicago to meet the comprehensive health and wellness needs of students,” said Kevin Havens of Wight & Company in a statement. “We are doing so in a way that is deeply respectful of the original architecture and seamless in its integration of past and present.”

The wellness center isn’t the only new development headed to the university’s South Side campus. Work continues on the David M. Rubenstein Forum designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro as well as a 1,300-bed high-rise dorm complex known as the Woodlawn Residential Commons. Plans are also in the works to bring a 167-room Study Hotel to the southern edge of the Midway Plaisance.

A stone reception desk stands in a lobby with a light wood floor, historic stone columns, and a skylit ceiling.
The bright, skylit reception area integrates the original stone cloister (right).
A looby space with seating and tables. One wall has a graphic of trees, the opposite wall is glass and overlooks a garden area.
The glass walls of the lobby lounge provide views of the landscaped courtyard.
A twilight image of a old gothic building with a new glass addition visible between the older columns. There are pedestrians walking between the columns.
From the Midway Plaisance, the addition glows between the restored and reopened colonnade.