Project Type:Higher Education, Historic Preservation, RenovationProject Location:1307 E 60th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637
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Awards and Acknowledgements:AIA Committee on the Environment:2020 Top TenDesign Features:Daylighting, Atrium, Rainwater Storage, Photovoltaics
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Leaders of the Harris School of Public Policy sought preservation and restoration of a midcentury masterpiece for their new home on the University of Chicagoâ€™s south campus. The Commission on Chicago Landmarks identified the Edward Durell Stone design in 1963 as contributing to the historic district of the Midway Plaisanceâ€”the spine of the 1893 Columbian Exposition. The transformational redesign integrates policy-inspired solutions to better connect with the community, place policy on display, and serve as an exemplar in sustainable design with LEED Platinum and Living Building Challenge Petal certifications.
The decorative limestone building with a five-foot tall imposing plinth was in need of full restoration; social repair to the adjacent underserved neighborhood, which the original building turned its back to, was also needed. One north-facing entry was replaced with new welcoming paths that erode the plinth, inviting passage on all sides. Encircling rain gardens soften pedestrian experience with sculptures, seating, and other architecturally significant pieces salvaged from the original building. Patterned bird-safe glazing wraps the rooftop addition and opens the faĂ§ade at key locations, inviting passage through the building.
The expansive concrete structure had restrictive floor heights and offered little connection to the exterior. Extensive daylight analyses helped balance perimeter windows with daylighting in the east and west two-story atria. A larger central four-story atrium was carved into the building and serves multiple programmatic functions.
Educational in function and composition, the Keller Center serves as a learning laboratory in which policy students and impactful research can witness real-world challenges and solutions through design. Thoughtful material selections led to healthy modifications of global manufacturersâ€™ material ingredients. Partnerships and specification of salvaged ash wood during the design process catalyzed positive economic and social impacts in adjacent neighborhoods, directly showcasing full-circle sustainability and the mission of the Harris School of Public Policy.
(Source: AIA COTE 2020)