flexiblefullpage -
billboard - default
interstitial1 - interstitial
catfish1 - bottom
Currently Reading

Blurring the lines: University of Chicago North Residential Commons

Building Team Awards

Blurring the lines: University of Chicago North Residential Commons

Gold Award: The University of Chicago’s new Residential Commons is part campus, part community.

By David Malone, Associate Editor | June 7, 2017

The new residential commons building has been designed with the specific purpose of opening up to the surrounding neighborhood. Tom Harris Photography.

The new North Residential Commons on the University of Chicago campus is more than just a place for students to eat and sleep when they aren’t in class or studying. The 400,000-sf residence hall offers students a place to live that blurs the lines between a campus and a community. 

Plazas, gardens, walkways, and courtyards connect four separate buildings that range from one to 15 floors. A single-story dining hall, equipped with floor-to-ceiling windows for abundant natural light, overlooks a central quad. 

Eight “houses” accommodate 800 undergraduate students. Each house has its own hub, a three-story common area where students can gather, study, and relax. Also included are classrooms, music practice rooms, and 10,000 sf of ground-level retail space. A reading room resides on the top floor and offers views of the city and Lake Michigan.


An example of one of the three-story hubs. These hubs can be used by the students for anything ranging from studying to relaxing. Tom Harris Photography.


The Building Team used BIM to simplify the project’s complex geometry. Through the use of the model, the team was able to determine that the original knife-shaped edges of the exterior precast panels needed minor adjustments. The edges were susceptible to chipping, so the top edge of the panels was changed to a more blunt-shaped edge.

The building was designed to reflect the university’s distinctive housing system, where students of all years live and work together to achieve a higher level of social and academic success.

“More effective than the design was the extraordinary effort to meet the owner’s and users’ needs,” said Building Team Awards judge Peter Isaac, Vice President with Brailsford & Dunlavey, and a BD+C 2016 40 Under 40 honoree. “It is clear the Building Team worked in close coordination with the University of Chicago.”


Building Team – Submitting firm, general contractor Mortenson Construction Owner University of Chicago Architect Studio Gang Architects Structural engineer Magnusson Klemencic Associates Mechanical engineer dbHMS

General Information – Size 394,020 sf Cost $161 million Construction time July 2014 to September 2016 Delivery method Design-build


Return to the 2017 Building Team Awards landing page

Related Stories

| Aug 29, 2022

Montana becomes first U.S. state to approve 3D printing in construction

Montana is the first U.S. state to give broad regulatory approval for 3D printing in building construction.

Architects | Apr 22, 2022

Top 10 green building projects for 2022

The American Institute of Architects' Committee on the Environment (COTE) has announced its COTE Top Ten Awards for significant achievements in advancing climate action.

Concrete Technology | Apr 19, 2022

SGH’s Applied Science & Research Center achieves ISO 17025 accreditation for concrete testing procedures

Simpson Gumpertz & Heger’s (SGH) Applied Science & Research Center recently received ISO/IEC17025 accreditation from the American Association for Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA) for several concrete testing methods.

2021 Building Team Awards | Jan 14, 2022

First public-private partnership project in Veterans Administration history saves $34 million in costs

LEO A DALY and McCarthy Building Companies head the project team for the Omaha VA Ambulatory Care Center in BD+C’s 2021 Building Team Awards.

Building Team Awards | Dec 8, 2021

A performing arts center celebrates a legendary rocker and his birthplace

Buddy Holly Hall in Texas receives BD+C’s Silver Building Team Award.

Building Team Awards | Dec 7, 2021

A rapid response to a health emergency

Baptist Hospital of Miami’s 233-bed Hope Tower receives BD+C’s Bronze Building Team Award

Building Team Awards | Dec 3, 2021

Putting science on display, thanks to a design-build approach

UC Riverside’s Plant Growth Environments Facility receives BD+C’s Bronze Building Team Award.

Building Team Awards | Dec 2, 2021

An academic ‘precinct’ brings arts and sciences together

Wofford College’s Chandler Center for Environmental Studies receives BD+C’s Silver Building Team Award.

Building Team Awards | Dec 1, 2021

Denver sets the bar for water reclamation and reuse

A new administration building for the city’s water utility company scores Platinum in BD+C’s 2021 Building Team Awards.

2021 Building Team Awards | Nov 17, 2021

Caltech's new neuroscience building unites scientists, engineers to master the human brain

The Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute for Neuroscience at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena wins a Gold Award in BD+C's 2021 Building Team Awards.

boombox1 - default
boombox2 -
native1 -

More In Category

halfpage1 -

Most Popular Content

  1. 2021 Giants 400 Report
  2. Top 150 Architecture Firms for 2019
  3. 13 projects that represent the future of affordable housing
  4. Sagrada Familia completion date pushed back due to coronavirus
  5. Top 160 Architecture Firms 2021