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University of Chicago, Department of Economics and Becker Friedman Institute for Research in Economics

Ann Beha Architects, Gensler

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University of Chicago


  • Gensler
  • Construction Manager: Turner Construction
  • Structural Engineer: Thornton Tomasetti
  • Mechanical Engineer: dbHMS
  • Electrical Engineer: dbHMS
  • Plumbing Engineer: dbHMS
  • dbHMS
  • Lighting Designer: Shuler Shook
  • Shen Milsom & Wilke
  • Burnham
  • Building Conservation Associates
  • Construction Cost Systems
  • Kirkegaard

Year Completed



150,400 sq. feet
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Project Description

The adaptive reuse of the former Chicago Theological Seminary and two historic row houses, and the integration of a 38,000 sf new Research Pavilion will create a centralized setting for the University of Chicago's Department of Economics and Becker Friedman Institute for Research in Economics.

The design engages historic preservation with contemporary design, establishing a dialogue between new and old, and extending the lives of heritage buildings, but setting them, and their modern companions, in a new enclave that is welcoming and unified. "This project breathes new life to an important but overlooked building and knits it into the academic and historic campus fabric," said Philip Chen AIA, Ann Beha Architects' Principal in Charge.

The site approach opens the former Seminary to the street, unifying its two wings and repurposing its interior spaces into collaborative settings. A new below-grade expansion, including a 90-seat classroom, will accommodate larger academic functions. The wood-lined classroom will be lit from clerestories embedded in a new garden terrace above.

The relocation of a city service alley creates a substantial site for the new Research Pavilion. The site will connect to the former Seminary and two row houses. The massing, articulation and materials of the Research Pavilion respond to the organization of the houses. The design of the new building is clearly contemporary, but establishes a dialogue with its historic neighbors. The Research Pavilion ties to the vocabulary of design established for the interventions on the former Seminary as well.

Currently under construction, this project establishes an innovative model for campus planning, growth, sustainability and stewardship and explores the discourse between historic and contemporary design. Gensler Chicago is the Architect of Record, collaborating with Ann Beha Architects during design, and leading the team in construction.
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