An architectural 'New Deal' for Roosevelt University

December 2, 2011

Here's a look at Roosevelt University's new tower, although if you've been on the southern edge of the Loop at all this year, the building is hard to miss.

The 32-story building will be completed early next year but there is already much to like, such as the bluish patterned glass and the way the building pinches in and out along the sides, which almost gives the building a human form. The thin building's broadest sides face north and south, almost as if it is turning its shoulder eastward. Located at 435 S. Wabash but leaving its mark on the S. Michigan Avenue streetwall a block east, the building connects with its historic neighbor, the Adler & Sullivan-designed Auditorium Building which has been Roosevelt's downtown home since 1945. The contrasts between the two are startling and quite welcome as each building speaks for its own time.

The big tower is the second-tallest university building in the country, second to University of Pittsburgh's 42-story Cathedral of Learning, built in 1937. In the photo below, the building posts-up nicely against the red CNA Tower in both scale and color.

Roosevelt's tower is essentially a new college turned on its end, housing a array of offices, labs, the business school, classroom space, etc. The 17 floors will be a residence hall for 600-plus students. Views from there will be worth writing home about no doubt.

The tower was designed by Chicago architecture firm VOA Associates.