Construction Update
Work Begins on Combo Live/Learn Building at UIC

Construction is underway on a new building at the University of Illinois at Chicago that combines both learning space, and living space.

Rendering of the UIC Academic and Residential Complex (Courtesy of SCB)

Rendering of the UIC Academic and Residential Complex (Courtesy of SCB)

the $100 million building designed by SCB features a circular two-story classroom wing, and a 10-story residential tower.  According to the renderings, the building features an auditorium that embraces the building’s form with a lecture hall that curves around the proctor.  But instead of rows of seats, there are swaths of double-sided benches, so half the students are actually facing away from the teacher.

To wrap your brain around it, check out the pictures below, and then the press release that follows.


Work has officially started at the University of Illinois at Chicago on a new living/learning facility, composed of a two-story academic classroom building and a 10-story undergraduate residence hall.

The $100 million facility is part of a public-private partnership between UIC and American Campus Communities, the nation’s largest developer, owner and manager of high-quality student housing communities. “This new facility will revitalize campus housing and provide much-needed amenities to our students,” said UIC Chancellor Michael Amiridis. “By creating innovative public-private partnerships we are able to address our capital infrastructure needs in the current fiscal environment.”

Designed by the Chicago-based firm Solomon Cordwell Buenz (SCB), the building serves as a bridge between UIC’s architecturally significant past, and it’s futre . “The building was designed with a “nod to Walter Netsch” (the original architect of the campus).” said Jim Curtin, design principal at SCB. “The building’s façade and interiors echo the geometric movement expressed in his infamous “field theory” and distinctive architecture.” The use of glass, light concrete panels, and natural materials in the new building draws from the campus’ design palette, but provides more transparent, well-lit, and inviting environments.

By the time the building is finished in July of 2019, it will offer 550 beds in a mix of traditional dorm rooms and suite-style units. In addition, the building will house 16,000 square feet of shared spaces including lounges for studying and student interaction, offices, laundry rooms, a fitness center, a 10th-floor sky lounge, as well as 1,600 square feet of retail space expected to house a coffee shop. The academic component of the project includes 51,000 square feet of classroom space, including three large tiered “turn-to-team”lecture halls, active learning classrooms, several small group study rooms, a tutoring center, and collaboration spaces.

“The new Academic and Residential Complex will give our students a place where they can engage and interact with their peers in an inviting, welcoming environment in the heart of Chicago and the West Loop neighborhood,” said Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs J. Rex Tolliver. “Enhancing the student experience is one of our top priorities and it’s what makes UIC a first-rate option for students and their families.”
“UIC is a forward-thinking educational institution, fiercely pursuing its mission set forth by Chancellor Amiridis to provide an innovative residential experience for its students,” said Jamie Wilhelm, American Campus Communities executive vice president of public-private partnerships. “We’re thrilled to partner with UIC to bring one of the leading mixed-use student developments in the country to fruition.”
The project is part of a new decade-long master plan to bolster the physical development of UIC. The plan is in the final stage of development and addresses the university’s capital infrastructure needs as total enrollment—including graduate and professional students—continues to grow, exceeding 30,500 students this fall for the first time in UICs history. Undergraduate enrollment also showed an 8.3 percent increase from 2016, including a 23 percent increase in new freshmen.

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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