New Construction Awards 2003: DePaul University Student Center, Chicago, IL

10/08/2003 |

Private/Corporate Honorable Mention

The Lincoln Park campus of DePaul University has had a profound role in shaping key areas of Chicago. Nestled in an affluent urban residential area of the city, the overriding design concern was the sympathetic fit of the new Student Center with the classic style of the neighboring residential context. At the heart of the campus masterplan, the Student Center serves as a central unifying element of the expanding campus and represents the most recent step in transforming this location from its historic role as a commuter campus into a more traditional university with residential facilities and a wide range of amenities.

Of particular note:

  • The design revolves around the dynamic, curved, two-story atrium that connects the cross-campus circulation path. Large, curved, glass-clad entries reach out to students at the west and the public at the east corners of the building, drawing each to a strategically placed central information desk.
  • The 155,000-square-foot Student Center includes a campus-wide dining area with seating for 750. The “platform” or marketplace serving approach maximizes efficiency and provides numerous choices for student diners. An early decision was reached to place the food service areas of the project on the second floor, acknowledging their “destination” status with student diners. In doing so, the entire second level becomes a student floor that includes recreation areas and student organization offices, as well as both the board plan and retail dining areas.
  • Embedded technology is available throughout the building, but is concentrated in a prominently located coffee shop that includes a series of counter- mounted flat screen computers where students can quickly and easily access their e-mail or the university computer network.


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