The project for a new chiller plant at the University of Chicago provided the opportunity to design for function, performance, materials, construction while simultaneously considering how the technical equipment could be displayed as if it were a piece of art. The resulting expression of the South Campus Chiller Plant is a modern celebratory display of technical equipment. As the utility equipment is exposed, other elements of construction remain “uncovered” – concrete walls and floors, steel structure, ducts, light fixtures, and pipes.
The University of Chicago – South Campus Chiller Plant received the 2009 AIA Chicago Chapter Award, the 2008 Chicago Architecture Foundation Patron of The Year Award, and the 2008 Midwest Construction’s Best Award.
Architects: Murphy Jahn
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Client: University of Chicago
Lead Designer: Helmut Jahn
Structural Engineer: Burns & McDonnel, Werner Sobek Engineering & Design
MEP: Burns & McDonnel , Primera
Project Area: 26,400 sqf
Project Year: 2009
Photographs: Rainer Viertlboeck
The plant’s façade language composed of two principal systems which facilitate showcasing of the major equipment while allowing the building to “breath” in and out in response to individual internal air intake and exhaust requirement. In major equipment rooms, there will be a floor to floor Low Iron Ultra Clear Glass curtainwall supported on Steel Bar Mullions – all the building’s technical systems are visible from the street – equipment, piping, valves, columns, girders, beams, and floor decks.
In those areas where the building needs to “breathe” the skin is clad with continuous sheets of profiled perforated stainless steel panels held 4” in front of precast concrete planks. The mechanical nature of the façade construction as well as the “uncovered” nature of the structure allows the building’s function to grow as demand increases.