University of Chicago

Projects : research  
University of Chicago
Gordon Center for Integrative Science
Chicago, IL
456,000 gsf

The Gordon Center supports the University's goal of conducting research at the frontier of contemporary science and facilitates the collaborative and integrative nature of evolving multidisciplinary science.  The Center houses the Biological and Physical Sciences Divisions, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, James Franck Institute, Ben May Institute for Cancer Research, and Institute for Biophysical Dynamics; it provides for basic research at the molecular level and combines the traditional disciplines of chemistry with structural molecular biology and biochemistry.

The program includes biomedical research labs; biochemistry and molecular biology labs; physical science labs for cryogenics, optics, and laser-based research; and synthetic chemistry and chemical biology labs.  Specialized facilities include a 24,500 sf vivarium with isolation suite, X-ray processing room, molecular modeling center, meeting/symposium center, fluorescence microscopy suite, flow cytometry lab, radioisotope labs, crystallography suite, and electronics shop.  Research support functions include NMR labs; imaging facilities; computer rooms; and clean rooms.

The three-story atrium functions as the interactive center of the complex; conference rooms and informal dining facilities are located in and adjacent to this transparent space overlooking the Science Quad.  Lounges and meeting spaces are dispersed throughout the building, taking advantage of views, to promote gathering and informal discussion and to support the collaborative mission of the program.

Design responses to the building's size and scale, and to connections with the University's urban campus, are key elements of the architecture.  To maintain openness within the Quad and relate spatially to the existing science library, the building takes on a triangular form; an open two-story passageway at the colonnaded entry leads into the Science Quad.  Limestone, metal, and glass articulate the façade.  A transparent block containing offices, meeting rooms, and a secondary entry marks the intersection of South Drexel Avenue and 57th Street.  The Chilled Water Plant that terminates the complex is integrated with the overall design, sharing its transparency and materials.

Ellenzweig provided programming, architectural design, laboratory planning and design, and construction administration services.