The University worked with the city of Chicago to convert Greenwood Avenue into a new pedestrian landscape connection linking 55th Street to the Henry Crown Field House and Cochrane-Woods Arts Center, which houses the Smart Museum of Art and the Department of Art History, as well as the Gerald Ratner Athletics Center and Ellis Avenue to the west. The Commons creates welcoming spaces for students and University neighbors, including elevated, landscaped courtyards for students and a public landscaped plaza at street level surrounded by active programming, including retail, classrooms and a café.
Campus North was delivered as a design-build project and realized in partnership with Mortenson Construction. Studio Gang Architects was the architect of record, and Hanbury served as the associate architect.
Innovative sustainability considerations
The design features an integrated approach to environmental sustainability that brings maximum natural light and fresh air to the interior spaces. The tallest tower is also positioned to capture north-south light, naturally improving the overall energy efficiency of the entire complex. The building's structure incorporates an innovative, radiant slab mechanical system, which supplies heating or cooling appropriate to the conditions of the rooms. Each student's residence is provided with automated controls to account for variable sun exposure as part of maintaining comfort. It is the first major residential application of this system in the Chicago region.
Varying in width, each window is tuned to the specific use of its interior space, enhancing the building’s highly sustainable mechanical systems. Glass surfaces are patterned with a ceramic frit that helps birds navigate around the structure and minimizes bird strikes. Custom grilles on the residential windows allow students to fully and safely open their windows for fresh air and ventilation.
Students have access to two landscaped courtyards that are located above ground level to provide beautiful, readily accessible outdoor spaces for residential students. In addition to these courtyards, expansive green roof systems help to retain 100 percent of rainwater on site, diverting it from the Chicago sewer system to prevent overflows. Used cooking oil from the Baker Dining Commons is pumped into a central tank and recycled into biofuel.
New dining and retail offerings
Located within the larger Campus North Residential Commons, the Baker Dining Commons offers a light-filled gathering space featuring floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking a central quadrangle, as well as two private dining rooms equipped with smart technology. Each of the College Houses has a dedicated house table where students can socialize and dine on a diverse selection of fare, including halal, kosher, vegetarian and vegan options, as well as options made without gluten, all prepared to order at nine food stations.
Campus North also will be home to new dining, coffee and retail spaces for the neighborhood. Insomnia Cookies specializes in delivering late-night cookies; Chicago-based Heritage Bicycles sells custom, locally built bikes and offers service and repairs; and Timbuk2 features messenger bags, backpacks and other wares for riders. Locally based Dollop Coffee Co. will offer Metropolis coffee, house-made sandwiches and pastries, and pies from Hoosier Mama Pie Company.