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University of Chicago William Eckhardt Research Center


Chicago, Illinois, USA

Completion: 2015

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.

2016 HOK Design Annual