Chicago-based design firm Studio Gang Architects just unveiled plans for a large dormitory complex for the University of Chicago - the latest in a series of bold additions to the campus. The sprawling new dorm will consist of three buildings that will rise 15, 11 and five stories, and it will house 800 undergraduates. The buildings' most prominent features will be window recesses that are set at slightly irregular angles, promising to produce interesting shadows. The new dorm complex is expected to achieve LEED Gold certification, and according to Studio Gang, it will create a welcoming new “front door” for the university.
The University of Chicago campus is known for its neo-gothic architecture, often earning it Hogwarts comparisons, but in recent years the campus development office has ditched the limestone in favor of modern, envelope-pushing architecture. The new Studio Gang-designed buildings will replace Pierce Hall, a 10-story fortress-like dorm designed by architect Harry Weese that was plagued with exploding toilets last year.
In contrast to Pierce Hall, Gang’s Campus North is designed to be open and accessible. “We are excited to develop our design that focuses on creating vibrant student communities within the residence halls, connected to a series of new, active public green spaces and environments,” said Gang. The dorms will be clustered around two large courtyards, and the new buildings will be oriented to maximize natural ventilation.
The design is also aimed at luring upperclassmen back to the dorms—many of whom now live in private rental apartments in the surrounding neighborhood. According to a press release issued by the university, the building will include special accommodations for upperclassmen, including private rooms and kitchen facilities. But the buildings will also feature public space at the top of the 11-story building, which will enjoy views of Lake Michigan.
Campus North isn’t the first building that Studio Gang has designed in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood. The firm recently designed a large apartment complex called City Hyde Park, which, according to the development website, is set to be completed next year. The firm also contributed design work to two major hotel renovations on the eastern edge of the neighborhood. And about five years ago, Gang unveiled plans for the Solstice on the Park high-rise, which was never built.
Demolition of Pierce Hall is set to begin next month, and a timetable for construction of the new dorm complex hasn’t been announced yet.