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OMA and KOO Architecture design UIC's "Center for the Arts" with a translucent tent-like roof

United States Architecture News - May 20, 2019 - 03:28   4029 views

OMA and KOO Architecture design UIC's

OMA and Chicago-based architecture firm KOO Architecture have won the competition to design a cutting-edge "Center for the Arts" on the University of Illinois Campus that will serve as a gateway and bridge between UIC and the world, and as a destination for innovative arts and cultural production.

OMA and KOO Architecture's proposal was selected from among the two strong finalists including Johnston Marklee/UrbanWorks and Morphosis/STL. 

OMA and KOO Architecture design UIC's

The teams were tasked with producing compelling designs that not only represent the innovative work of the schools in the College of Architecture, Design, and the Arts (known as CADA), but also contribute to UIC’s distinctive mission as an urban public university that seeks to be a leader both in research and in educating a diverse student body.

The center will be located on the northwest corner of UIC’s east side of campus at Halsted and Harrison streets in a currently vacant location known as Harrison Field. 

OMA and KOO Architecture design UIC's

The building will be visible from the three expressways as well as from downtown Chicago, and accessible from the CTA’s revamped UIC/Halsted Blue Line station, the OMA and KOO's building will be a prominent landmark that bridges the West Loop and campus.

OMA and KOO's design is inspired by the campus' original designer, Walter Netsch, reinterpreting his principles to conceive a unique flexibility for the concert hall. 

OMA and KOO Architecture design UIC's

Shohei Shigematsu, OMA Partner based in New York, said "the design was inspired by the campus’ original designer, Walter Netsch, by reinterpreting his principles to conceive “a unique flexibility” for the concert hall."

"We are honored to be awarded this project that will serve as a new cultural anchor for the students of UIC and the city of Chicago. Our design focuses on fostering dialogue between performance and the public – the new building will be a connector between the city and UIC’s urban campus,” Shigematsu said. 

"In collaboration with the College of Architecture, Design and the Arts and the School of Theatre and Music, we hope to create an openness and extreme accessibility by introducing a new platform for the diverse activities of UIC."

OMA and KOO Architecture design UIC's

The building is designed as a public and urban hub for performance and gathering, and a home for the School of Theatre and Music, the project required an 88,000-gross-square-foot (8,175-square-metre) building with a 500-seat vineyard-style concert hall and a 270-seat flexible main stage theater, as well as instrumental and choral rehearsal halls and theater production shops. The building will also include supporting facilities, a donor lounge, a small café/jazz club, and exhibition space.

OMA and KOO Architecture design UIC's

Jackie Koo, founder of KOO, said "feedback from the users during a midterm project review was helpful in guiding their design. She said she was particularly impressed with the “high level” of architectural thinking she found in the work of the other proposals."

"It is a great honor both as an UIC alumna and as an architect practicing in Chicago to be part of such an important cultural project,” Koo said. 

"We wanted our design to transparently showcase the pedagogy of CADA and how UIC is a school that succeeds at educating future creative leaders while being accessible to all."

OMA and KOO Architecture design UIC's

OMA/KOO’s concept design proposes two towers: a student tower that faces the campus and opens to a performance park along the Peoria Street bridge, and a public tower that looks to the city scape and opens to a Phase One screening plaza along Halsted Street. 

Large ramps flow from the street to an "accessible topography of performances" on the second level, connecting the outdoor and indoor performances spaces, including the concert hall between the towers, and the Phase Two main stage theatre on Halsted Street. Production spaces will be placed along the Harrison Street on the ground floor.

The center will be covered by a translucent, tent-like roof with embedded photovoltaics that stretches from and between the towers, covering the concert hall and the main stage theatre. The colors of the performance space volumes would shine through the translucent areas.

OMA and KOO Architecture design UIC's

The three finalists were chosen from an international pool of 36 teams that responded to a public request for qualifications. The final decision by the selection committee was reached in consultation with university, college, and school leadership.

The selection committee consisted of William Bradford, AIA, Associate Director of the Office of Capital Planning and Project Management at UIC; Judith De Jong, RA, Associate Dean of CADA; Fernando Howell, Director of the Office of Capital Planning and Project Management at UIC; Qu Kim, RA, Assistant Director, Construction Capital Programs, University of Illinois System Office; John Syvertson, FAIA, member of the UIC Design Review Committee; and David Taeyaerts, AIA, Campus Architect, UIC.

OMA and KOO Architecture design UIC's

Currently, university and CADA officials are in the process of raising the anticipated $94.5 million construction budget through private and public funds.

OMA's new exhibition "Dior: From Paris To The World" has been opened at the Dallas Museum of Art in the Arts District of downtown Dallas, Texas. The firm also completed the expansion of Sotheby's New York Galleries with flexible spaces.

All images courtesy of OMA

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