OMA and KOO Architecture have won the competition to design a new Center for the Arts building for the University of Illinois at Chicago. The duo bested 35 other teams and two other finalist entries from Morphosis and STL Architects, and Johnston Marklee and UrbanWorks.

The new complex is intended by the school to have both public and academic functions. It will house the School of Theatre and Music along with two theaters, a café-jazz club, and an exhibition space in a new 88,000-square-foot building. Sitting at the northwestern corner of the east side of UIC Chicago’s campus, the university wants the building to link the school to the surrounding community.

Rendering of a building glowing at night

OMA and KOO Architecture’s design is intended to be visible from downtown Chicago. (Courtesy OMA)

OMA and KOO Architecture’s design features several volumes collected under a translucent roof dotted with embedded photovoltaic panels. The two main theaters are clad in reddish-orange and green materials so that they will distinctly visible through the curtain-like skin. Two mid-rise “towers” seem to hold the roof aloft—one tower faces the campus and is dedicated to student use while the other is dedicated to public programming and faces the city.

According to Shohei Shigematsu, the partner in charge of OMA’s New York office, the building is inspired by Walter Netsch’s late modernist designs for UIC Chicago’s campus, a mix of mat buildings and brutalist forms, not all of which have survived to the present day.

The University of Illinois at Chicago has not announced a target completion date for the project and is currently raising the $94.5 million expected to be needed to complete construction.

The project will not be OMA’s first academic project in the Second City—the firm’s IIT building was finished in 2003. KOO Architecture has completed a variety of projects around the region.

 

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