The Mies van der Rohe residential building, the Bailey Hall built in 1955, at Illinois Institute of Technology will be subject to renovation works by Dirk Denison Architects. The Chicago-based firm will modernize the mechanical, structural, and interior works, modifying its original function, and introducing a new configuration to host up to 330 first- and second-year students, while the exterior will remain faithful to the original design and the ground floor lobby will still hold on to the Mies’ iconic recessed glass lobby.
“This is our challenge and opportunity with space: How do you take a plan that was originally about separation and privacy and make it fluid and communal,” -- Dirk Denison, founding principal
The original nine-story structure, built in the years following World War II, housed a postwar influx of staff, faculty, and students with families. With a totally revamped interior setting and a converted plan, the spaces generated, flooded with natural light, will be more suitable for individual students and their lifestyles, offering its attendees the unique experience of living in a high-rise designed by the great Mies van der Rohe. The approach is to reimagine the floor through a new composition, thanks to the “pod” concept, very famous in student housing, where the rooms will be created around a central study and lounge space, generating flexibility, diversity and encouraging gatherings. Natural light will flow thanks to open corridors and shared spaces.
“The recessed, transparent glass entry is visually welcoming, and sheltering, as you move out of the weather and into the building, and the dynamic of people coming and going makes visible the vitality of the residence. Unlike some entries where there’s a solid door where you are going to wonder what’s behind, our doors and walls are what we refer to as dematerialization, connecting indoors and out. This is one of the great contributions of Modernism, and one Mies wholly embraced.” -- Dirk Denison, founding principal
On a more technical level, cooling systems, high-performance insulation, and an exhaust heat exchanger will be introduced in order to improve the building’s energy efficiency and to create a low-impact and healthy building for better student life. The transformation will secure the position of Bailey Hall as a gateway for the campus. The post-war building is one of the first in its kind to receive such a huge transformation. The building is set to open by the fall semester of 2020.
“My approach to the design is to maintain the legacy of the building’s presence on campus, […] if you did a double-take, the building would look the same in the future as it has in the past. And that’s done in very simple ways, like being respectful of the expressed structure.” -- Dirk Denison, founding principal