University of Chicago opens Campus North Residential Commons

Residential and dining facility designed by Studio Gang Architects and built by Mortenson Construction creates new campus gateway

The University of Chicago’s Campus North Residential Commons and Frank and Laura Baker Dining Commons will open for students on September 17, along with street-level retail shops and amenities that will benefit the Hyde Park community. 

Designed by Studio Gang Architects, a design practice led by renowned architect Jeanne Gang and based in Chicago and New York, the project will enhance campus life for University students and create a new campus gateway that embraces its surroundings.

Located on the northeast corner of the University campus, the 400,000-square-foot Residential Commons will be home to 800 undergraduate students and includes the Baker Dining Commons; offices for Campus and Student Life; University classrooms; outdoor green spaces; and 10,000 square feet of retail.

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Building on College Housing tradition

UChicago’s College Housing program brings together undergraduate students into Houses of approximately 80 students. The College Houses give students the opportunity to develop close social and academic networks for all four years of their experience at UChicago. 

“UChicago has a long-term goal to house more students closer to campus, and this new and vibrant living space furthers that goal,” said David Clark, Assistant Vice President for Campus Life and Associate Dean in the College. “The building was designed to reflect the University’s distinctive College Housing program, and we are excited for our students to move in this fall.”

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Advancing academic and campus life through design

Campus North was delivered as a design-build project and realized in partnership with Mortenson Construction. Studio Gang Architects was the architect of record and Hanbury served as the associate architect.

Led by Mortenson, the design-build team used Lean building practices and innovative technology including laser scanning and 3D modeling to meet the ambitious construction schedule while ensuring quality and safety. In fact, this collaborative approach made it possible for students to move in a year earlier than the original development estimates. 

“The Campus North Residential Commons are another bold example of the University’s leadership in architecture and construction. Not only is it beautiful, functional and sustainable, but the entire process that led to this magnificent new campus addition demonstrates an ongoing commitment to its students, faculty, administrators and community,” said Greg Werner, senior vice president of Mortenson Construction.

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Innovative sustainability considerations

The design features an integrated approach to environmental sustainability that brings maximum natural light and fresh air to the interior spaces. The tallest tower is also positioned to capture north-south light, naturally improving the overall energy efficiency of the entire complex. The building's structure incorporates an innovative, radiant slab mechanical system, which supplies heating or cooling appropriate to the conditions of the rooms. Each student's residence is provided with automated controls to account for variable sun exposure as part of maintaining comfort. It is the first major residential application of this system in the Chicago region.

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