Historic UC Building Gets Expanded Mission

One of the great things about a city as young as Chicago, is how old its institutions are.  The more I explore the antiquarian musea of Europe, the more I run across references to Chicago’s Field Museum.  The more I tour the art collections of Asia, the more Chicago’s Art Institute pops up.  And the museum at the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute is straight out of an Agatha Christie Poirot adventure.  Go there.  Today.

Some of that institutional history is hiding in plain view, like the Lying-In Hospital at the aforementioned University of Chicago.  “Lying-In Hospital” is what we would call a maternity hospital today.  But when the fledgling facility opened in 1895, such a thing was so unheard of, it actually had to pay women to have their babies there.

Today, people rattle off the name “Lying-In Hospital” without realizing what it used to mean. In a way, that’s OK since the building is currently being reborn to dispense new types of health care.

August 2019 rendering of the University of Chicago Student Wellness Center (Courtesy of Wight & Company)
August 2019 rendering of the University of Chicago Student Wellness Center (Courtesy of Wight & Company)

Wight & Company is renovating the 1931 Schmidt, Garden & Erickson-designed health clinic building into a new Student Wellness Center, which will consolidate a number of student welfare services from around the campus into a single location.

The key to this transformation is the partial glassing-in of the building’s courtyard.  This will provide space while still allowing people to appreciate the building’s gothic architecture.   In addition, the walled-off colonnade will be opened up again and become the new main entrance.  

The renovated Student Wellness Center is expected to open toward the end of next year.

Author: Editor

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

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