The New Roosevelt University Building in Chicago

Photo of The New Roosevelt University Building in Chicago, Illinois
Image courtesy of Roosevelt University
Photo of The New Roosevelt University Building in Chicago, Illinois
Image courtesy of Roosevelt University
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Photo of The New Roosevelt University Building in Chicago, Illinois
Image courtesy of Roosevelt University
Photo of The New Roosevelt University Building in Chicago, Illinois
Image courtesy of Roosevelt University

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The New Roosevelt University Building

425 South Wabash Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, The Loop 60605
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It was in the midst of an economic recession that crippled most other large building projects that Roosevelt University announced the construction of this building. While office skyscrapers around Chicago and the nation were cancelled, Roosevelt and other institutions of higher education found themselves swollen with students trying to succeed in a fiercely competitive job market.

The construction of this building coincides with a general revitalization of the Wabash Avenue corridor. Once a dank, foreboding side street lined with seedy dives and abandoned buildings, in 2007 the City of Chicago began a program of turning it into a bright, airy, lively center of commerce and transportation. This building is the perfect complement.

Its festive angles and glass facade add to the formerly darkened streetscape below. It also replaced a time-ravaged 18-story building and a surface parking lot, neither of which contributed much to the neighborhood.

At 32 stories, it is the tallest educational building in Chicago and a prominent symbol of Roosevelt University in an area crowded with urban colleges of varying pedigrees. While its function is utilitarian, its form is certainly a statement by the University (merely a College just months before the announcement) that it is a major player in midwestern education. The students who live and learn in this building can be proud of the structure.

In design, the undulating angles are reminiscent of the Hearst Tower in New York, and continue a trend being toyed with in many contemporary skyscrapers of having gravity-defying overhangs.

Quick Facts
  • Construction start: 2010
  • Construction finish: 2012
  • Designed by: VOA
  • Cost: $110,000,000
  • Type: Skyscraper
  • Stories: 32
  • Maximum Height: 469 feet / 143 meters
  • Maximum Width: 100 feet
  • Maximum Length: 170 feet
Statistics
  • Levels above grade: 32
  • Levels below grade: 1
  • Site size: 17,000 square feet
  • Beds: 615
Timeline
  • December, 2008: Herman Crown Hall was closed.
  • November, 2009: Demolition of Herman Crown Hall began.
  • November, 2009: This building was announced.
  • April, 2010: Groundbreaking
  • January, 2012: Completion
Notes
  • Architecture firm: VOA
  • This building joins the historic Auditorium Building at four points.
  • At the time of its completion, this is expected to be the second-tallest university building in the United States.
  • At the time of its completion, this is expected to be the sixth-tallest university building in the world.
  • This building replaced the 364-bed Herman Crown Center with a residential component with 615 beds.
  • This building was inspired by Constantin Brâncuşi's 1926 Endless Column.
  • This building was inspired by Sol Lewitt's 1986 Wall Drawing.
  • This building was inspired by the 1961 Commissariat of Heavy Industry competition entry for Moscow by Ivan Leonidov.
  • This building was inspired by Chicago's 1957 Inland Steel Building.
  • This building was designed to look good from the CTA elevated rail line.
  • This building is divided into "residential," "student union," and "academic" neighborhoods.
  • The east, west, and south facades are various shades of tinted glass.
Stacking Diagram
15-31: 
14: 
13: 
11-12: 
6-10: 
5: 
3-4: 
2: 
Mezzanine: 
1: 
B1: 
Did You Know?
  • This building replaces Herman Crown Hall, which was demolished because it would cost too much to bring it into compliance with modern fire codes.
Look For
  • The vertical core which runs along the north side of the building. It is clad in dark granite to match the base of the neighboring Auditorium Building.
Quotations
  • "This is the most important development in the University's history since the Auditorium Building was acquired in 1946... We are building the quintessential 21st Century university structure and it's going to give us a dramatic new image on Chicago's skyline."

    - - Chuck Middleton, Roosevelt University president, November, 2009

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