The former home of the Chicago Theological Seminary is the new home of the Department of Economics and the Becker Friedman Institute for Research in Economics. The building—with original building systems, years of deterioration, and a long list of deferred maintenance projects—was in drastic need of renewal and revival. The area was deteriorated, and the “shoulders” of its site—streets, alleys, university-owned houses—were run down.
This project establishes a new four-building academic precinct, which minimizes new footprint, re-purposes historic resources, and reclaims underutilized property. Introducing a new precinct, the design extends the historic quad, renewing and transforming deteriorated structures and back alleys, in an expanded landscape. This project welcomes the public into its common spaces and new landscape. Its main level offers open loggias, a café, meeting rooms, and casual seating. Below, a
concourse level has been created, with a tiered classroom and gathering spaces, connecting to adjacent buildings. Above, the buildings offer meeting and classroom spaces, workplace and research settings, and in the reclaimed attic, a loft for graduate workplace, often “reset” for daily use. Underground construction was an effective and sustainable expansion strategy, resulting in a 90-seat classroom with natural light, without new footprint.
Historically, the seminary stood apart. Now it is knitted into the campus and neighborhood, open and accessible. Always an outlier, separate, it is now open, welcoming, busy both morning and night.
Ann Beha Architects; also Gensler; Turner Construction Company; Thornton Tomasetti; dbHMS; OLIN; Terra Engineering; Schuler Shook; Kirkegaard Associates; Shen Milson & Wilke