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
  • Levels above grade: 32
  • Levels below grade: 1
  • Site size: 17,000 square feet
  • Beds: 615
  • 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
  • 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
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.
  • "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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Your Thoughts

There are five comments.

  Herman Crown Center—Roosevelt University's 14-story dorm was my South Loop home for 3 semesters during my time as a Columbia College Chicago undergrad in the mid 1990s.Chicago's South Loop has drastically changed since the 1990s. I noticed the green glass facade of this building a few months ago & figured RU had added floors to the Herman Crown Center & sheathed the whole thing in green glass, but, this is a "new" building.

Robert T. Jenkins - Tuesday, April 14th, 2015 @ 2:54am  

  Quite handsome; the variations in glass color give some additional visual interest to what might otherwise be a simple funhouse mirror surface. The progressive shortening of vertical tiers of same-color glass is surely a deliberate exercise in forced perspective.Somewhat off-topic, I'm rather surprised that another Chicago university skyscraper with "gravity-defying overhangs" does not have its own CAI page. I refer to Walter Netsch's 1965 University Hall at the U of I Circle Campus, with two stages of overhangs making it about 20 feet wider at the top than the bottom. The gag among UICC students at the time the campus opened (other than the obvious one about the blueprints having been held upside-down) was that there was nothing wrong with it that a good 200-year growth of ivy wouldn't cure.

Alan Follett - Friday, October 5th, 2012 @ 10:41am  

  It will redefine Michigan Avenue's Streetwall with such a classy glass facade that makes angles on Wabash Avenue. Also a great addition to the city's south loop skyline.

Brent Kampert - Tuesday, January 19th, 2010 @ 2:55pm  

  Dont get me wrong... I do like this building; however, when planning to build in Chicago, you have to think TALL. Roosevelt should use this kind of money on making Roosevelt one of the tallest buildings in Chicago and use it as a marketing strategy!

Like, but would rather have it taller - Tuesday, January 19th, 2010 @ 12:08pm  

  This building looks like a wonderful new addition to the Chicago skyline! The varying shades of blue "windows" are reminiscent of clouds against a blue sky. The sleek, undulating surface with its unusual overhangs is very appealing; it really takes the Wabash St. architecture to a new level .

Stunning new building! - Friday, January 8th, 2010 @ 1:59pm