Project Completion Year
Project Location: City
Project Location: State
Project Location: Country
United States of America
The University of Chicago’s brief called for a new residence hall to enhance academic life by supporting its House system, which forms communities of students to bolster social and academic success. It also called for a new quadrangle in a previously ill-defined area of campus while improving relations with the nearby neighborhood, from which the University was previously closed off. Featuring a mix of residences, dining amenities, classrooms, retail, and green spaces, Campus North is an open, welcoming portal to campus and a nexus of connectivity that encourages exchange among students while strengthening connections with the community.
Three slender bar buildings frame a network of new outdoor spaces that draw in the surrounding community while establishing new campus connections. Responding to its context, the architecture reinterprets the campus’s neo-Gothic heritage with a highly tuned sculptural precast concrete facade. Each building is scaled to its context. The tallest structure provides insulation from a busy boulevard; the lowest structure harmonizes with the neighborhood. In addition to connecting campus and community, this configuration deploys passive strategies to optimize solar orientation—part of a comprehensive sustainability strategy that earned LEED Gold certification.
From the outside in, the buildings are organized around staggered three-story “House hubs”—clearly visible from the exterior—which feature home-like spaces where one hundred undergraduates can gather, study, cook, and relax. Additional spaces—the dining commons, a top-floor reading room, music rehearsal rooms, and areas for studying and gathering—unite the entire student body.
Sustainable Design Intent and Innovation
Certified LEED Gold, Campus North is a leading example of environmental innovation, featuring an integrated approach to sustainability that emphasizes passive reduction of energy requirements. The buildings are optimized to north-south light, naturally improving the overall efficiency of the entire complex. The buildings’ precast panels offer solar shading and provide thermal mass for a two-way radiant heating slab system, maximizing comfort and allowing the buildings to operate with reduced mechanical cooling. The radiant slabs consist of a network of polyethylene piping embedded in the ceilings that circulates hot or cold water, heating or cooling the rooms’ surfaces rather than the air.
Using heat mapping technologies, openings in the facade were tuned to balance light, ventilation, and comfort, placing less energy demand on the radiant slab system. Custom metal grilles provide shade, reducing the effects of temperature fluctuation and in turn minimizing heating and cooling energy. The grilles also serve as fall restraints, allowing for operable windows that permit the building to operate in natural ventilation mode, further minimizing energy use; each student room is equipped with sensors and automated controls that switch the flow of water in the radiant system off or on when a window is opened or closed—the first major residential application of this system in the Chicago region. Argon-filled, low-E insulated glass and continuous closed-cell foam insulation provide a well-insulated building envelope that helps conserve energy. A ceramic frit pattern allows for transparency while also reducing solar heat gain and deterring bird strikes.
Waste-drain heat recovery reduces domestic hot water consumption, reclaiming energy by using a coil wrapped around shower drains to transfer heat from hot waste water to fresh cold water entering the building from the city’s water supply. This preheating of water reduces the gas used by the water heaters, providing hot water while using less energy. Low-flow fixtures and dual-flush toilets are also utilized. An expansive green roof and landscaped student courtyards retain one hundred percent of stormwater, slowly discharging it back into the ground and eliminating overflow from the Chicago sewer system. Permeable pavers also reduce stormwater runoff and increase recharge through infiltration. Additionally, all cooking oil from the Baker Dining Commons is recycled into biofuel.
The energy efficient design hinges on passive load reduction. A tightly constructed, highly insulated facade with exposed thermal mass, high-performance glazing, and exterior shading dampens the effects of environmental swings to minimize required heating and cooling energy. Tuned building massing and orientation maximize available natural light and ventilation to reduce artificial lighting and mechanical ventilation consumption via daylighting controls and operable windows.
Efficient active systems limit building energy consumption and carbon emissions. The student rooms and apartments employ a radiant system that relies on water circulated through slab-embedded tubing to provide space conditioning and thermal comfort. As water is a much more effective medium of heat transfer than air, the radiant slab significantly reduces the building systems footprint in terms of energy consumption, physical size, and construction material required. Variable-speed pumps and fans, condensing boilers, an efficient campus chilled water plant, and shower drain heat recovery systems work together to further reduce electricity and gas usage.
Finally, an extensive network of building-wide equipment energy and performance meters connected to an advanced building automation system allows real-time energy performance verification and provides the means to develop continual energy performance improvement strategies.
Predicted EUI in kBtu/sf/yr excluding on-site renewable energy contribution:
Predicted EUI in kBtu/sf/yr including on-site renewable energy contribution:
56.6 kBTU/SF-yr; no on-site renewable energy
Predicted % regional energy reduction per Energy Star Target Finder:
43.7% reduction compared to annual regional median residence hall energy performance
The project transforms a formerly inhospitable condition between campus and the surrounding neighborhoods into a new nexus that creates greater connectivity not only between the University and its neighbors but within the University as well with new walkways and connections to campus. It serves as a welcoming threshold that invites both students and neighbors to enjoy new public amenities including green spaces that have become a well-used and much-loved part of the neighborhood. The project also provides a vibrant, active street presence with 10,000 sf of new retail and offers new options for dining; the Baker Dining Commons not only serves on- and off-campus students, staff, and faculty, but is also open to the public, facilitating interactions among all members of the campus community.
With its new walkways, plazas, and central quadrangle, the area is highly walkable and is considered a bicyclist’s paradise. There are many public transit options nearby, including immediate access to the #171, #172, and #55 buses, with the Red and Green Lines just a mile away. It is a 13-minute walk to the 55th-56th-57th Metra stop.
No parking spaces are provided for occupants, encouraging use of public transit, biking, and walking.
The project’s WalkScore rating is 87.
On the interior, this project utilized low-flow fixtures and dual-flush toilets. Because the greatest amount of water use would come from a residential user group, utilizing 0.5 gpm lavatory faucets in a residential application offers large savings over the 2.2 gpm baseline. Additionally, 1.0 gpm kitchen faucets and 1.5 gpm showers offered significant savings over their baseline counterparts of 2.2 gpm and 2.5 gpm, respectively. The use of native and adaptive landscape features (including green roofs) allowed for potable water use savings of 58.23 percent over baseline. Furthermore, due to the high permeability and infiltration rates identified for the existing on-site soil profile, the stormwater management system was designed to infiltrate one hundred percent of stormwater on-site with zero discharge to the combined sewer.
Percent precipitation managed on site:
100% of runoff was managed on site.
Percent waste water reused on site:
No waste water is reused on site.
Predicted annual regulated potable water use, gallons/sf/yr:
Percent regulated potable water reduction from baseline:
48.14% potable water use reduction from baseline
All selected materials are low VOC.
Design Architect (FIRM)
Food service consultant