University of Chicago William Eckhardt Research Center
Chicago, Illinois, USA
This new research center provides a home
transform the facades throughout the day.
Carefully planned interaction spaces include
for the University of Chicago’s first molecular
James Carpenter Design Associates served
a 150-seat conference room, pre- and post-
engineering program and Nobel Prize-winning
as design consultant to HOK in the creation of
event space, a café, light-filled hallways and
physical sciences research groups. The
the dynamic building enclosure. Each facade
corner collaboration areas with open views,
research that takes place here extends
is uniquely responsive to the site and its
and writable surfaces like whiteboards and
from the smallest scale possible to the
public realm, harnessing light as an organizing
chalkboards. Each floor is considered a
largest imaginable, ranging from molecular
principle that enhances the building’s
neighborhood, with a home base at the north
manipulation to increasing humankind’s
performance and human experience.
end providing the largest gathering spaces.
understanding of the universe. The world-class research teams based in this
On the building’s top floor, an open balcony
The vision for the design was to foster the
building work across multiple disciplines in
provides a view of the Chicago skyline to
interdisciplinary collaboration required to
chemical, electrical, mechanical and biological
the north. Placing exit stairs at the exterior
transcend traditional scientific boundaries and
engineering as well as the traditional materials
provides natural light and outdoor views that
generate transformative breakthroughs.
and physical sciences. The five floors above
encourage their use.
grade provide flexibility and infrastructure for Located on the main campus south of
lab types ranging from optics to chemistry. A
Supporting the center’s mission of driving
downtown Chicago, state-of-the-art
“racetrack” plan places labs in the center of
the research and development of renewable
laboratories, offices and collaboration spaces
the floor and offices on the perimeter of upper
and environmental resources, the facility is
support ambitious research for the university’s
floors. Two of the center’s seven floors are
expected to achieve LEED Silver certification.
Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics,
below grade, enabling the university to isolate
the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics,
highly specialized labs, including the Pritzker
the Institute for Molecular Engineering and the
Nanofabrication Facility cleanroom and a
Dean’s Office of Physical Sciences.
high bay assembly lab, from vibration and electromagnetic interference.
Extensive use of glass on the exterior links occupants to nature and enables light to
◄ view of science quadrangle from west
2016 design annual
277,000 sq. ft. / 25,735 sq. m.