U. of C.’s Rubenstein Forum Center approved by the city

Descriptive rendering of the David M. Rubenstein Forum looking southwest from 60th Street. – Photo courtesy of University of Chicago

Staff Writer

The Chicago Plan of Commission approved University of Chicago’s proposal to build a 90,000 square feet, state of the art institutional project along the historical Midway Plaisance.

The building, which will be called “The Rubenstein Forum Center,” 1201 E. 60th St., will be named in honor of University Trustee and alumnus, David M. Rubenstein, JD’ Class of 73, co-founder and co-CEO of the Carlyle Group, in recognition of his ongoing generosity to the university. According to the university’s website, the Rubenstein Forum will be a place of intellectual, institutional and educational exchange.

The project developers are “Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R),” an internationally based firm with a U.S. office in New York, and will include a two-story base and narrow 165-foot tower with entrances north and south to open the main lobby, a space for informal interactions, a restaurant, and the building’s largest meeting space—tentatively named the “University Room,” where large lecture’s, panel discussion’s and seated dinners will take place. The area will accommodate up to 600 people.

In addition to the University Room, two other signature spaces feature prominently in the architectural expression of the building. A 285-seat auditorium projects from the tower facing north. Tentatively called the Presentation Hall, it will provide a tiered-seating option for keynote presentations, panel discussions, film screenings or performances, with the trees of the Midway Plaisance and Rockefeller Memorial Chapel as a backdrop. A top-floor, multipurpose space, tentatively named the Lake View Room, will provide ample space and amenities to accommodate a large departmental reception or a multi-day symposium of 50 to 75 scholars, among other types of activities.

The project will also include a tower pair meeting room designed to create interior “neighborhoods,” with informal spaces. That will be devoted to small, intimate and academic symposia, with the potential to add larger conferences and meeting room space in the near future.

The programs for the building will be designed by several focus groups and consultants along with more than 100 plus faculty and staff from the University of Chicago.