U. of C. will build new on-campus residence hall

A rendering of the new Woodlawn Residential Commons that will be located between Woodlawn and University avenues, just north of 61st Street. – Courtesy of the University of Chicago.

By TONIA HILL
Staff Writer

The University of Chicago (U. of C.) will build a new on-campus residence hall and dining commons, according to a public announcement released on Tuesday, Jan. 23.

The new Woodlawn Residential Commons will be located between Woodlawn and University avenues, just north of 61st Street.

The new dormitory will house 1,200 undergraduate students and resident staff and will include lounges, study rooms, and outdoor spaces.

In total, the facility will have 11 houses, which are residential communities that “foster close academic and social networks throughout a student’s time at the College,” said U. of C. in a written release.

The firm of Elkus Manfredi Architects will design the Woodlawn Residential Commons.

A private developer team consisting of Capstone Development Partners and Harrison Street Real Estate Capital will develop, provide the funds and oversee the design and construction of the project. Following construction, the group will be responsible for the upkeep of the new residential and dining commons.

Turner Construction Company, a New York-based firm, will construct the Woodlawn Residential Commons. The company was also recently selected by the Barack Obama Foundation to serve as construction manager for the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park. Turner Construction Company, according to U. of C., has committed to its goals for diversity and local hiring on capital construction projects.

“This includes increasing participation of certified, minority-owned contracting firms from 25 percent to 35 percent, women-owned firms from five percent to six percent, and raising the proportion of onsite construction workers who live in the city of Chicago from 30 percent to 40 percent,” said U. of C. in a written statement.

Once the facility is open, it will be managed as other residence and dining halls on U. of C.’s campus with oversight from the university, Housing and Residence Life staff, and College resident deans.

Construction is expected to begin this summer. It is slated to open in the 2020-2021 school year.

Similar to U. of C. Campus North Residential Commons that opened in 2016, the Woodlawn residence will offer single and double rooms, private apartments with kitchens and bathrooms and common areas. The space will also accommodate resident deans and faculty members.

“The new Woodlawn Residential Commons continues the University of Chicago’s commitment to further the educational and personal success of our students by developing supportive and intellectually stimulating residential communities,” said John W. Boyer, dean of the College in a written statement. “Students come to the University of Chicago for a distinct style of intellectual engagement and for a particular culture of learning, but that experience should not be confined to time in our classrooms. With the Commons, we will offer more high-quality resources for community living as well as an environment that also is designed to foster personal and intellectual development.”

Bon Appétit Management Company, which runs all residential dining commons at U. of C. will hire permanent and temporary staff for the new dining commons. “Thirty-five percent of the work will be allotted to women and minority-owned entities, and 50 percent of employees will come from local South Side communities,” said U. of C. in a written release.

Other construction projects on the horizon for the university include a 180-room hotel, the David Rubenstein Forum, and the Keller Center.

The 180-room hotel that was proposed in May will include meeting rooms, a fitness center, and a full-service restaurant. The full-service hotel will be developed and owned by Hospitality 3 LLC. Hospitality 3 LLC is a New York-based firm and has similar projects in New Haven, Conn., and Philadelphia.

The Rubenstein Forum will be an academic conference center, and the building will host academic conferences, workshops, lectures, meeting, ceremonies and more. It will be built at 60th Street and Woodlawn Avenue, across from the planned hotel.

The Keller Center will house the U. of C. ‘s Harris School of Public Policy. The project consists of a major renovation and redesign of an existing building at 1307 E. 60th St., construction began last April, and it is expected to be complete by fall 2018.

A presentation on the proposed Woodlawn Residential Commons is expected to take place on Wednesday, Jan. 24 at Ald. Willie Cochran’s (20th) monthly ward meeting at UChicago Charter School Woodlawn Campus, 6300 S. University Ave.

t.hill@hpherald.com