Photographs by Dan Dry
Sandwiched between Rockefeller
Chapel and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House, the GSB’s
new Hyde Park home had to be both state-of-the-art and harmonious
with its surroundings. How did noted architect Rafael Viñoly
solve the design problem?
When architect Rafael Viñoly set out to
create the Chicago Graduate School of Business Hyde Park Center
he faced a laundry list of requirements. The facility had to reflect
the latest trends in teaching and student collaboration. That meant
high-tech classrooms and meeting areas where group work could thrive.
Logistical plans called for a parking garage and plenty of eating
and recruiting space—features that the GSB’s old home,
spread among five buildings on the University’s main campus,
to respect the long, low forms of the Robie House,”
Viñoly says, “and the vertical elements of
But the center’s nuts and bolts were only
part of Viñoly’s challenge. Its 5807 South Woodlawn
Avenue location placed it south of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Frederick
C. Robie House and east of Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, two architectural
The newcomer was expected to fit in. Complicating
matters, Robie House reflects the low, horizontal Prairie style,
Rockefeller the Gothic preference for high ceilings and soaring
arches. Viñoly had to look back to move the project forward.
Nearly two-and-a-half years after breaking ground,
his answer to the problem is on display, opened in time for fall
quarter’s September start. With the 415,000-square-foot building,
Viñoly seems to have struck a balance. For $125 million the
GSB got its state-of-the-art facility, and the neighborhood got
an addition that gives different schools of architecture—and
thought—room to coexist.
Like a tiered wedding cake, the center’s
seven stories are set back in succession, with two placed underground,
to reduce the structure’s perceived size. “The massing
was considered with that of the surrounding buildings of the campus
and the neighborhood,” Viñoly says. The linear limestone
and cantilevered floors were selected with Robie House in mind.
In another nod to Wright’s 1910 masterpiece, the entranceway
terrace provides a view of its northerly influence.
Not to give Robie House too much play, the center’s
winter garden, as Viñoly coined the open, plant-filled space,
takes Rockefeller as its inspiration. The 83-foot-tall, glass-enclosed
atrium’s steel columns extend the building’s height,
mirroring the chapel’s lancet windows. Curved beams form arches
in yet another Gothic bent.
Stylistic concerns aside, a pragmatic thread
runs through the center’s design. Features such as a food-service
area, group-study rooms, wireless Internet access, a computer lab,
lockers configured to hold interview suits sans wrinkling, and a
lounge complete with pool tables aim to make mingling and spending
a full day there—as many of the approximately 1,600 full-time
students and staff do—easier. To further encourage idea sharing,
faculty offices are arranged so that professors from different fields,
say finance and marketing, work side by side.—M.L.