Text description provided by the architects. The new Commons is a 15,500sf renovation that creates a vibrant gateway, connecting campus and Library while emphasizing its importance as the University's 24/7 heart. It provides an array of flexibly interconnected learning/living environments---single-user tables, group workstations, deep lounge chairs, booths with banquettes, high counters with stools, soft sofa modules---spread through a variety of lounges, study areas, “smart” classrooms and seminar spaces, a cafe, and spaces for social interaction and performances.
All are saturated with the latest digital technologies and centered around the support desk and a printing center. From outside, students enter between two prisms of steel grating, brightly lit at night. From inside, entry is from the Library's main lobby through a brilliant yellow portal in an aluminum-clad wall (printed with students' silhouettes composed of ideograms representing UIC's 72 fields of study).
Activities are contained in low-slung volumes (clad with whiteboard panels and translucently filmed glass, divided by curtains of steel mesh, and surrounded by the building's 16ft curtainwall to connect to the landscaped campus outdoors. Above, new lighting, ductwork and aluminum panels showcase (and humanize) the bravura Piranesi-like play of concrete structure of the original building's classic Brutalist design (Walter Netsch, SOM, 1965).