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IIT To Build First Academic Building On Campus In 40 Years

By Sam Cholke | August 12, 2016 7:58am
 IIT will break ground on the $37 million Kaplan Institute on Aug. 25.
IIT Kaplan Institute
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DOUGLAS — The Illinois Institute of Technology is preparing to break ground on its first new academic building on campus in 40 years.

The $37 million Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship will break ground on Aug. 25 and is expected to open in late 2018.

In February 2014, Kaplan, founder of Zebra Technologies and a graduate and longtime board member of IIT, made a $11 million gift to the university to found the iInstitute.

“The Kaplan Institute project is a significant push for Illinois Tech into the field of innovation and tech entrepreneurship,” said Mark Zonka, a spokesman for the university.

The 70,000-square-foot building will be just to the north of Hermann Hall, 3241 S. Federal St., and will be the first academic building constructed on the university’s main campus in 40 years, since the Stuart Building was constructed in 1971, according to Zonka.

John Ronan Architects, one of the finalists to design Barack Obama’s presidential library, has designed a building that is promised to almost appear to float and glow.

The building will be cantilevered both to give the appearance that it is floating and also to provide shade to the first floor in an aggressive approach to sustainability from the architects.

The entire building will also be wrapped in special foil cushions that have never been used before in Chicago that use pneumatics to control the amount of sunlight entering the building. The architects have said it will give the building a very light and cloud-like appearance because the material is only 1 percent the weight of glass.

“The design for the Kaplan Institute is a thoughtful and sensitive contribution to Illinois Tech’s important architectural legacy yet is forward looking in its approach to the flexible and technologically advanced learning facilities needed today,” John Ronan, Illinois Tech professor of architecture and architect for the project, said when the designs were unveiled.

The building will not be used by a single department, but run by the provost as a space for the university’s interdisciplinary research and will be a hub for the university’s Interprofessional Projects Program, Entrepreneurship Academy, Jules F. Knapp Entrepreneurship Center and Idea Shop.

Construction is expected to ramp up in March with the building expected to open in late 2018.

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