Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies / Krueck & Sexton Architects

© William Zbaren
© William Zbaren

Architects: Krueck & Sexton Architects
Location: Chicago, Illinois, USA
Associate architect: VOA Architects
Client: Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies
Commissioning agent: U.S. Equities Development
Interior designer:
Engineers: Tylk, Gustafson, Reckers, Wilson, Andrews (Structural), Environmental Systems Design (MEP/Fire Protection/Life Safety)
Landscape consultant: Daniel Weinbach & Partners
Environmental consultant: Atelier Ten
Lighting: ISP Design Inc., Schuler & Shook (Atrium Lighting)
Acoustical: Kirkegaard Associates
General contractor: W.E. O’Neil
Project Area: 13,471 sqm
Budget: US $40,000,000
Project year: 2007
Photographs: William Zbaren

© William Zbaren © William Zbaren © William Zbaren © William Zbaren

The Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies selected Krueck & Sexton to design a signature architectural statement about the nature of Jewish culture, light and learning.

Spertus, set in the Historic Michigan Boulevard District designed by architects such as Burnham and Sullivan, resembles an exquisitely cut diamond placed into the great wall of stone that rises like a cliff across Grant Park. Its faceted and folded façade is an expression of light, both metaphorical and actual, which is fundamental to Jewish religious and intellectual traditions. Spertus’ logo spells let there be light, which represents the educational and spiritual enlightenment that is achieved through learning. Present day materials and technologies are chosen and rigorously deployed and detailed in order to support the desired building expression, and reveal the inner dynamic and energy of the many programs within. The unabashedly sculptural and transparent expression of the institution is of our time, while engaging in a dialogue across time with masterpieces that put Chicago on the architectural map.

© William Zbaren
© William Zbaren

The new building functions as a vertical campus, containing museum galleries, a library and archives, a 400-seat multi-use auditorium, a degree granting college, café and gift shop, and administrative offices. The inner dynamic and diversity of Spertus is achieved by a soaring ground floor lobby and a meandering atrium at the top of the building. This spatial solution physically and symbolically connects the institution’s varied functions, creating a series of grandly scaled rooms that borrow light, space, and vitality from each other.

© William Zbaren
© William Zbaren

Through a variety of measures, including high performance lighting, demand based ventilation, and heat recovery, the building achieves a 29% reduction in energy consumption, resulting in over 300 tons of avoided CO2 per year. Water-saving fixtures are used throughout. The quality of the building’s indoor air is ensured by the use of healthy materials, high-efficiency air filtration, and special humidity controls, providing for the well-being of staff, students, and visitors, as well as the long-term preservation of the Institute’s archival treasures.

Cite: "Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies / Krueck & Sexton Architects" 05 Nov 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 22 May 2015. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=39707>
  • temple


  • james

    10/10 for the photography

  • chicago_g

    a dated trend catcher

  • pelican

    such a feeble attempt of connecting the outside&inside geometry

  • leo

    nothing interesting. unsuccessful formalistic attempt. no ‘reveal’ of inner ‘dynamic and energy’ (according to the architect’s intentions). boring interior. some buildings advertise their ‘low energy consumption’ or ‘green design’ etc. because of lack of architectural quality. sometimes we forget that we are architects, and responsible for what we leave in our cities for the next 100 years or more. sorry…..

    • Laputa

      i think you should go and visit the building again… at least this building in Chicago have something to do with the city, the lake and also with himself, great view from the interior and also from the exterior, beautiful moves at the top of the building making an opening to the adjacent building,sensitive and precise,…

  • Tosh

    I wonder why all the Jewish buildings so twisted.. :) Libeskind did something to the Jewish society with his museum..

    • http://designvagabond.blogspot.com { kat }


  • http://www.fgoesarte.blogspot.com Felipe Goes

    Nice building!

  • christopher

    (in his Jewish mother voice) But is it easy to clean???

  • http://fxstudiodesign.com Frédric Clairoux

    I was there last winter for a visit.

    Great building and amazing view of Michigan Lake from the library

  • Kevin Donnelly

    What role did Johnson Controls play in the constuction of the museum?

    • Jim Sheffield

      In what way was Johnson Controls involved with this project ?

  • saying

    Not bad, but interior lacks for some power element, something, that brings it down from the sterility, some accent or contrasting materials (wooden elements, colour, stone etc).

  • free palestine

    Kike Studies.