The university said it is planning to close the 1100 block of East 58th Street in front of the Oriental Institute to motor vehicles. The new green space would link the main quadrangle to the Booth School of Business and the under-construction Becker Friedman Institute for Research in Economics.
On the west end of the quad, the university is planning an open-air portal through the administration building at 5801 S. Ellis Ave. to connect the quad with medical buildings on campus.
The idea to close the section of 58th Street was first broached a year ago at community meetings on the conversion of the former Chicago Theological Seminary into the Becker Friedman Institute. At the time, residents expressed concerns about traffic and the loss of 29 parking spots.
Representatives from the university were not available to comment on Monday, but provided a written statement.
“The outdoor spaces on campus can be as important as the indoor spaces,” university architect Steve Wiesenthal said in the statement. “These projects will connect parts of campus that have felt distant from each other because of features of our buildings and landscape.”
A 2012 traffic study by Sam Schwartz Engineering commissioned by the university said traffic would be minimally affected by the change. According to the study, 385 vehicles travel through the intersection at the east end of the one-way street during peak morning traffic. The study also identifies places around campus to replace the 29 parking spots.