Students living in the University of Chicago House System belong to a campus community that crackles with intellectual energy. Each house develops its own traditions and culture and is home to students of different backgrounds, interests and areas of study to share a common space and a common spirit. In their houses, students learn about the College’s academic and cultural norms and interact with a diverse group of peers, Resident Heads and faculty members. Life in the House System is part of the academic community and an extension of the classroom experience; the academic and communal realms are mutually reinforcing to the success of Chicago students.
Hanbury had the opportunity to immerse deeply in the Chicago House System through an initial phase of work which developed the master site plan, a ‘model house program,’ and preliminary concepts for eight houses (100 students each plus faculty and staff in residence). Following this initial phase, Hanbury partnered with Studio Gang Architects for final design in a design build competition.
The community is a new gateway portal to the campus linking the University to the Hyde Park neighborhood. Three buildings sensitively respond to the varied density contexts, stepping from the urban edge of 55th Street down to the scale of residential neighborhood along University Avenue. The facades are contemporary concrete panels inspired by the University’s architectural traditions and the house concept.
Each house occupies three floors and each includes a central ‘hub,’ the ‘heart of the house,’ which creates functional connections linking the three floors into a single community. The hub connects housemates with common space and activities zoned from the highly active first floor to the highly sought quiet third floor providing a zone of study for each house. The common spaces intentionally promote engagement, diversity and well-being, by providing abundant natural light and warmth, using transparent and open edges, including a central stair, and creating a natural invitation to ‘join in house activities.
The eight houses share common spaces including dining, retail, social space, multipurpose rooms, offices, classrooms, a coffee shop, and a community commons. A signature reading room on the 14th floor of the tallest building is used by the community and the campus, as it celebrates memorable vistas of Chicago.
Green roofs and secure landscaped courtyards provide common space and contribute to one of the many features that earned this project LEED Gold, as they retain one hundred percent of stormwater and discharge it back into the ground, eliminating overflow from the Chicago sewer system.
“We are so pleased with your work here at the University of Chicago, and have benefited greatly from your insight, knowledge of the industry, and responsiveness. Many thanks for your ongoing collaborations.”
–Steven Wiesenthal, FAIA, Senior Vice President and University Architect, University of Chicago