Density Reimagined: Creating a new model for student housing
The University of Chicago wanted to develop a residential complex for 800 students, resident directors and faculty masters, as well as a new dining facility. The urban site on the south edge of campus called for a high-density design solution. But it had to feel like a destination—and like home.
Important goals included:
- Build a sense of community at multiple scales
- Fit comfortably with the adjacent residential neighborhood
- Balance openness with security
Through collaborative programming with students, residence life staff and administrators, Goody Clancy developed an innovative design approach. Four-story houses of 100 students each are stacked into a high-rise complex, surrounding two private courtyards. Inviting lounges and shared common spaces serve the entire resident population, complemented by a vibrant, glassy dining facility. The contemporary design holds its own in the context of neighboring buildings by modernist architects Mies and Saarinen.
One building, eight houses
The innovative design stacks small residence “houses” within a larger urban complex.
Fostering a vibrant student community
Facilities are designed to foster social interaction and support extensive programming. By locating communal spaces of different scales and character strategically within the complex, residents have multiple settings in which to engage their classmates and faculty. The two-story living room is the center of each house’s social life. This light-filled space is complemented by a kitchen, study rooms, and smaller lounges to support a range of activities.
A home for students
The complex offers a variety of residential housing options, from singles and doubles to suite-style housing. Rooms feature large expanses of glass and operable windows.
Stepping down to meet its neighbors
To relate sensitively to the adjacent residential community, the building’s massing was modulated from eight stories to five on the southern edge. Variety and domestic scale are provided by expressing the master’s houses at the corners, and including stoops.
The new dining facility is wrapped in glass to put its activity on view and to enhance the experience of arrival at the complex. It was carefully integrated as an addition to the adjacent historic Burton-Judson Courts dorm and dining facility, and includes a retail café/convenience store open to the university community and to the neighborhood.