The University of Chicago has begun work on a two-story addition to its Laboratory for Astrophysics and Space Research (LASR). Designed by the Chicago office of Perkins Eastman, the addition will update and expand the original 1964 SOM-designed modernist single story building.

The main goal of the new addition will be to bring the building up to current standards of physics research, and to house both the Theoretical and Experimental research groups in one building. The LASR will also house the University of Chicago’s acclaimed Department of Physics, including the Enrico Fermi Institute and the Kadanoff Center for Theoretical Physics.

When finished, the 63,500-square-foot building will include day-lit offices and collaboration spaces, and two large gathering spaces. One of these spaces will cantilever over the existing building’s footprint in order to accommodate larger groups. Expansive picture windows in the gathering spaces allow for views across the architecturally rich campus. A bright double-height commons and roof terrace will also provide spaces for less formal gatherings. Laboratories that are light-sensitive will be located below grade, and to the interior of the building.

With a goal of LEED Silver, the building’s facade is calibrated to reduce the need for artificial light, while avoiding excessive solar heat gain. Heating and cooling will be handled by overhead chilled beams instead of forced air.

Perkins Eastman joins a handful of architects currently working for the university including Studio Gang, Johnston Marklee, and HOK. The University of Chicago campus is a veritable theme park of architecture with projects by Frank Lloyd Wright, Henry Ives Cobb, Eero Saarinen, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Walter Netsch, Ricardo Legorreta, Rafael Viñoly, César Pelli, Helmut Jahn, Tod Williams and Billie Tsien Architects, and Holabird, Root and Burgee.

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