Image courtesy OMA and bloomimages.de
A joint team of OMA and Jacobs has been selected to design a new 200,000-square-foot headquarters for the University of Illinois System’s Discovery Partners Institute in Chicago, the state and Governor JB Pritzker announced on Thursday.
The multi-year project will transform a disused 62-acre former yard site as the first construction in the larger The 78 Innovation District that is meant to provide a high-tech connection between Chinatown to the South Loop.
Pritzker says its “futuristic design” matches the state’s ambition to create a hub for innovation downtown on land donated to the state by Related Companies’ Midwest operation. Beyond the typical economic stimulus components provided by the project, the development will support a host of K-12 education and entrepreneurship programs, continued wastewater monitoring, and a hodgepodge of other collaborative business ventures geared toward the tech industry.
The eight-story design will feature an opened-up ground floor public area, auditorium, and cafe, all anchored by a new sculptural commission from the Canadian artist Richard Hunt. OMA’s Partner-in-Charge Shohei Shigematsu says its “soft, transparent form” offers itself as an “open invitation for the community to the building and its network,” adding that “programs are organized to maximize efficiency and potential to converge, and variegated layouts are configured around a central zone of collisions.”
The building’s upper levels will further be defined by a flexibility of space that is crucial to the development’s collaborative ambition. Key functions are arranged into stacked “towers” that allow for efficiency and usability of the design. Wayfinding from the atrium up is designed in a similar fashion. The completed building will be wrapped in a transparent, high-performance facade and represent the latest in a series of collaborations between the two firms that dates back many years.
The project is expected to break ground in 2024.