Cool Building Wednesday: The UofC's big chill(er)

January 27, 2010

(photo by Lee Bey)
(photo by Lee Bey)

It's one of the best-looking new buildings on the University of Chicago campus--and it is designed by a world-famous architect.

But if you go to the Quadrangles, Midway Plaisance, Ellis Avenue, Woodlawn Avenue or any other place the university has stashed its better architecture over the last century, you won't find it.

The South Campus Chiller Plant, a sleek, glass-skinned beauty, is tucked away near in the campus' south east corner near 61st and Dorchester. Despite its out-of-the-way location, the two-year-old building designed by architect Helmut Jahn of Murphy/Jahn architects, gets notice and architecture awards.

(photo by Lee Bey)
(photo by Lee Bey)

The 24,000 square foot plant produces steam and chilled water to heat and cool present and future buildings on the university's expanding south campus. The facility holds five 21-ton chillers, plus boilers, pumps and related equipment. The machinery and assorted works are colored brightly and visible through transparent the metal and glass curtain wall.

(photo by Lee Bey)
(photo by Lee Bey)

Helmut Jahn and a model of the South Campus Chiller Plant (photo by Lee Bey)
Helmut Jahn and a model of the South Campus Chiller Plant (photo by Lee Bey)

There's a nice collection of architecture forming on the‚ south end of the University of Chicago campus. New efforts include architecture firm OWP/P's work to breathe new life into the‚  D'Angelo Law Library, Eero Saarinen's long overlooked midcentury modern building. And Carol Ross Barney's very smart-looking university parking structure and campus police station has just opened at 61st and Drexel (you can find images of it here.)

Jahn's next major work will be a little more centrally located on the campus. His firm is doing a glass-domed addition to the Joseph Regenstein Library.

In other architecture news: Ex Skidmore Owings & Merrill managing partner Thomas Kerwin and Chicago architects Brad Lynch and David Brininstool--formerly Brininstool + Lynch--have formed a new firm, principals will announce today.‚  The new firm, Brininstool Kerwin Lynch, plans to use Kerwin's expertise and contacts to pursue work overseas, according to a news release. Kerwin becomes the firm's managing principal.‚  Kerwin, 46, resigned from SOM in late 2009 after a 23-year career there.