This project stems from the University’s objective to push parking to the perimeter of the campus to enhance the internal pedestrian paths and open space. Out of this objective emerged the idea of combining a new parking structure with a university visitor center to form an entry element to the campus from the south.
The building sits on the beach of Lake Michigan at a significant bend in Sheridan Road – a prominent connector of Chicago to its northern suburbs. This location allows the Visitor Center to celebrate the campus’ unique location on the water, as well as give it prominence from the perimeter of the campus. The architecture responds to these two different conditions – campus and lake.
The parking structure is framed by planes of limestone – the historic material of the campus. On the north and east façades, vertical fabric fins infill the limestone to help screen the visibility of the garage while remaining open, thus eliminating the need to mechanically ventilate the parking. The fins facing the lake animate the view from the beach and relates to the adjacent sailing center.
The Visitor Center is carved out of lower two floors of the mass with a double–height hall and auditorium at the south end. The tall curtain wall takes advantage of the views to the beach and the lake, as well as provides a transparency and visibility into the space reinforcing its function as an entry to the campus