The Logan Center comprises a tower and two wings (capped in saw-toothed and green roofs, respectively). The façades are clad not in the traditional Indiana limestone of other university buildings, but in a warmer-toned version that is quarried in Missouri.
Architect Tod Williams describes the Logan Center’s lower, horizontal volume as representing the Plains; its saw-toothed roof admits natural light into painting and other fine-arts studios. The northern façade, with the tower, is closest to the campus core.
The southern façade is the public face for the residential communities on Chicago’s South Side. An entrance underneath the projecting glass-and-metal volume leads to a lobby from which the performance venues can be accessed.
The eastern courtyard, with concrete pavers designed to mimic the shape of the building’s stone block, can be used for casual gatherings or performances. A bridge overhead connects a roof terrace atop the theater volume to the third floor of the arts tower.
This lobby anchors what Billie Tsien terms a “Main Street” for the building—the path connecting the north and south entrances. The translucent panels enclosing the stair can double as a projection surface.
Several break-out study areas are contained within the complex, many lined with either tile from Heath Ceramics or felt liners.
Painting and other fine-art studios are filled with natural light thanks to windows and skylights, but less visible are the high-tech systems behind the walls. “This building is a place where people make art. It can be very dirty,” Tod Williams says. “All of that dust, and dirt, and sound can be troublesome to people who are trying to play music at the highest level or print something in a clean way, so the filtration system, the air system, all of these things are crucial to be state-of-the-art.”
The penthouse-level performance hall in the tower can serve as a classroom, a rehearsal space, or a music venue. Micro-perforations in the walnut-lined walls expose acoustic material that absorbs sound.