Three months after the ceremonial groundbreaking, construction crews have finally been given the giddy-up to start work on Columbia College’s new student center at 754 South Wabash Avenue.
CAISSON FOUNDATION AND GROUND FLOOR SLAB ONLY FOR PROPOSED 5-STORY STUDENT CENTER FOR COLUMBIA COLLEGE. FOUNDATION, GRADE BEAMS AND SLAB ON GRADE.
The new building was designed by Gensler. The San Francisco-based company describes the project thusly:
…the design took the conventional idea of an atrium and turned it inside-out, making the active student spaces more visible. By pushing the atrium space to the perimeter, the building provides inter-floor connectivity and enhances its connection back out to the surrounding campus. The facade’s patchwork of translucent glass expresses student activity and artwork outward to engage the street and surrounding community.
When complete next year, the 114,000-square-foot building will have… well, it’s hard to say. Student unions have always been multi-purpose facilities, and colleges are all about flex space and rooms that can be used for multiple purposes and reconfigured on demand. But Columbia has this to say about it:
The new building is designed as a flexible space where students of all majors and disciplines will have access to integrated spaces for both structured and informal interaction and learning— from individual space, to dance studios, to analog and digital maker labs, to an 800-person event space.
Music fans will recognize the address as the former location of Buddy Guy’s Legends — one of the few blues clubs left in a city that was once internationally famous for its blues clubs. Legends opened at this location in 1989, and moved to 700 South Wabash two decades later.