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Architect Jeanne Gang Unveils Design for New University of Chicago Dorms

By  Kyla Gardner and Sam Cholke | July 23, 2013 1:54pm | Updated on July 23, 2013 3:57pm

 Designs were unveiled Tuesday for a new dorm on the University of Chicago campus.
New Dorm Renderings
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HYDE PARK — The University of Chicago unveiled designs Tuesday by architect Jeanne Gang for a three-tower dormitory on the north end of campus.

“The site is located almost in the heart of Hyde Park,” Gang said at the unveiling at the Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th St. “It could become the front door to the campus.”

Gang’s plan calls for three white concrete towers, the largest rising to 165 feet tall, to replace the crumbling Pierce Hall and the adjoining sports field.

Gang’s firm, Studio Gang, was selected from a group of 14 architects to design the new home for 800 undergraduate students. She said she has tried to incorporate elements from the brutalist style architect Harry Weese used at Pierce Hall, and wanted to complement Gothic touches of the main campus.

“As a contemporary architect, it’s always a challenge. How do you do that with Gothic-style architecture?” Gang said.

Gang said she has included multi-level lounges in the center of the towers as a nod to Weese’s design, but the gothic facades are more difficult in an era where hiring hundreds of stonemasons is not an option.

“It’s impossible to apply that technique today,” Gang said, adding that she is trying to emulate some of the depth in the Gothic facades with the new concrete buildings.

The entire structure will consist of three towers, the tallest 15 stories high with two smaller towers at 11 and five stories. A diagonal path will run between the buildings, connecting the Smart Museum of Art with the businesses on 55th Street. Retail spaces are planned for the 55th Street side of the dormitory.

Gang's work is becoming well known in Hyde Park with her designs for the City Hyde Park development, the renovation of the Shoreland Apartments and other projects. She's also known for her work on the Aqua building downtown, among other projects.

According to Steve Wiesenthal, the university’s architect, Gang’s vision will cost approximately $148 million to build. The university is hoping to open the new dorm to students in the fall of 2016.

Demolition of the 10-story Pierce building is set to begin Aug. 19.