Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) has unveiled its design for the David M. Rubenstein Forum at the southeast corner of Woodlawn Avenue and 60th Street on the University of Chicago's campus. The 90,000 square foot (8,500 square meter) facility has been devised as a place of intellectual, institutional, and educational exchange, fulfilling a variety of campus needs for meeting spaces. A collection of block-like volumes, the building’s two-story base is anchored by a narrow 165-foot (50 meter) tower, with the exterior materials and structure reflecting the programmatic divisions within.
The facility has been designed with complete focus on the user experience, placing an emphasis on reliable technology, quality foodservice, and informal spaces for more spontaneous meetings. Natural light is employed wherever possible, and transparency allows for users to establish connections with the University’s campus, surrounding communities, Downtown Chicago, and the Lakeshore.
“We composed the tower as a stack of ‘neighborhoods’ with meeting and communal spaces of all sizes—both formal and informal, calm and animated, focused and diffuse,” explains DS+R’s founding partner, Elizabeth Diller. “The building prompts its varied populations to cross paths with one another where possible to enhance intellectual exchange. The lower floors of the Rubenstein Forum are porous and dynamic with connections to the campus and the community in all directions. As one climbs the building, there is a progressive retreat from the everyday to more contemplative spaces with dramatic views of Chicago and Lake Michigan.”
The building is broken up by what the University is calling “signature spaces,” which are denoted by the bronze cladding in the renderings. On the building’s ground floor, the tentatively named University Room is a flexible space for large lectures, panel discussions, or seated dinners, with accommodations for up to 600 people. Directly above the base in the building’s tower is a 285-seat auditorium being called the Presentation Hall, which will provide tiered-seating options for keynote presentations, panel discussions, film screenings, and performances. At the top of the tower, and tentatively named the Lake View Room, is a space meant for large departmental receptions, symposia of 50 to 75 scholars, or other activities.
According to the University Executive Vice President David Fithian, “For those of us involved every day in convening groups on campus and in organizing meetings and events for guests from around the world, the Rubenstein Forum fulfills a critical need for the University. Too often events hosted by the University are held in other parts of Chicago, and our guests are denied the opportunity to experience the intellectually dynamic and beautiful campus that we have in Hyde Park.”
The Rubenstein Forum is named for University Trustee and alumnus, David M. Rubenstein, JD’73, co-founder and co-CEO of the Carlyle Group, in recognition of his ongoing generosity to the University.
Location6005 S Woodlawn Ave, Chicago, IL 60637, United States
Architect in ChargeDiller Scofidio + Renfro
PhotographsCourtesy of Diller Scofidio + Renfro