NEIU’s New El Centro Building Wows at Opening Ceremony

Northeast Illinois University El Centro Building

The first building of Northeastern Illinois University’s new satellite campus had its grand opening yesterday, and it was dressed to impress. Enveloped in an unusual skin described as “an entirely porcelain ventilated façade system” by Porcelanosa, it is the first building in the area to be decked out with the technology.

If you ever drive into the city on the Kennedy Expressway, you’ve probably seen the JGMA-designed building going up.  It’s sandwiched between I-90/94, the Metra tracks, and North Kimball Avenue, and seems like a perfectly dreadful place to put a slaughterhouse, let alone a college building where people need a little peace and quiet to think.  But NEIU is using the unusually-shaped property to its advantage, as described by JGMA:

This site offers NEIU both figurative and literal visibility.  The building footprint follows site geometry while pushing toward the expressway to reflect an urban street edge with parking hidden behind.  This orientation allows the building itself to act as a marketing tool for NEIU.  Unlike a billboard, the architecture asserts its presence, not through shameless advertising, but through twisting roof forms and the bold NEIU school colors prominent on the vertical louvers rhythmically arrayed along the building’s facades.

It’s one of those “you’ve got to see it” kind of buildings.  Fortunately, Chicago Architecture Blog photographer Milosh Kosanovich was at the grand opening, so enjoy his amazing photos below of this very welcome addition to Chicago’s architecture collection.

Location: 3390 North Avondale Avenue, Avondale

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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