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Campus North Residential Commons

Spanning a full-block site, the Campus North Residential Commons serves as a university gateway, merging academic and community life to enhance student success.

Students at the University of Chicago House System are part of a vibrant community, enriched by intellectual energy. Each house, distinct in traditions and culture, brings together students from varied backgrounds and disciplines, fostering a shared sense of space and spirit. Within these houses, students immerse themselves in the academic and cultural ethos of the College, interacting closely with fellow students, resident heads, and faculty. The house system extends classroom learning into daily life, blending academic and communal experiences to foster student success. Hanbury had the opportunity to immerse deeply in the Chicago House System through an initial phase of work which developed the master site plan, a ‘model house program,’ and preliminary concepts for eight houses. Following this initial phase, Hanbury partnered with Studio Gang Architects for the final design in a design-build competition.

The community is a new gateway portal to the campus linking the University to the Hyde Park neighborhood. Three buildings sensitively respond to the varied density contexts, stepping from the urban edge of 55th Street down to the scale of residential neighborhood along University Avenue. The facades are contemporary concrete panels inspired by the University’s architectural traditions and the house concept.

Community civic spaces, dining and retail enliven the interior of the new residential quad. Spaces capture the natural light, the activities of the adjacent outdoor spaces and encourage community engagement. In the evening hours, ambient light spills into the courtyard, creating a lively and safe place to gather well into the evening hours.

The exterior design modernizes the campus's Neo-Gothic style through the use of precast concrete panels. The assembly required orchestrating more than 1,000 panels, with around 61 of them being unique.

Each house spans three floors, centered around a 'hub'—the heart of the house—linking all floors into one community. This hub connects residents to common spaces and activities, from the bustling first floor to the quiet study zone on the third. Designed to foster engagement and well-being, these areas feature ample natural light, open layouts with transparent edges, and a central staircase, encouraging in-house participation.

Green roofs and secure landscaped courtyards provide common space and contribute to one of the many features that earned this project LEED Gold certification, as they retain one hundred percent of stormwater and discharge it back into the ground, eliminating overflow from the Chicago sewer system.

A signature reading room on the 14th floor of the tallest building is used by the community and the campus, as it celebrates memorable vistas of Chicago.

  • Sector: Higher Education
  • Scope: Architecture
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • 2016
  • 395,368 SF
  • LEED® Gold certified
  • photos courtesy © Tom Harris Photography
  • Design Excellence Award, AIA Chicago, 2018
  • Merit Award for Architecture, AIA Virginia, 2018
  • Distinguished Building Award, AIA Chicago, 2017
  • Building of the Year Midwest, Best of Design Awards, Architect’s Newspaper, 2017
  • PCI Design Awards, Higher Education category, Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute, 2017
  • Honor Award, AIA Hampton Roads, 2017
  • American Architecture Prize, Educational Buildings category, 2017
  • Best Project Award, Residential/Hospitality category, Engineering News-Record Midwest, 2017
  • Best Precast Project, International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craft Workers Awards, 2017
  • Shortlist, Higher Education Category, World Architecture Festival, 2017
  • Gold Award, Building Team Awards, Building Design + Construction, 2017
  • National Award of Merit, Design-Build Institute of America, 2017
  • Excellence in Design Award, Design-Build Institute of America, 2017
  • Community Impact and Social Responsibility Award, Design-Build Institute of America, 2017
Project Team
Jane Cady Rathbone
Design Principal
William G. Hopkins
Project Manager
Buddy Hall
Project Manager, Programming
Scott Evans Miller
Reid Sabin
Anna E. Carpenter
Erika Feggestad
Studio Gang
Design Architect / Architect of Record
Magnussen Klemencik Assoc.
Structural Engineering
MEP Engineering and LEED Consultant
Climate Engineer
Hood Design
Landscape Architect
David Mason Assoc.
Civil Engineering
Threshold Acoustics
Acoustic Engineer
Lightswitch Architectural
Lighting Designer
Jensen Hughes
Life Safety and Fire Protection Consultant
Envision Strategies
Dining Consultant
Ricca Design Studios
Food Service Consultant
BIM Consultant