A Cantilevered Community Hub: David Rubenstein Forum, Chicago

Session: Track A: Best Tall Building Award: Under 100m Part 2, 300-399m & 400m+ Part 2

Tracy McCabeSean GallagherProject image

Tracy McCabe
Senior Associate Vice President, The University of Chicago

Sean Gallagher
Associate Principal, Director of Sustainable Design, Diller Scofidio + Renfro
New York City

The David Rubenstein Forum at the University of Chicago is prominently located on Chicago’s Midway Plaisance across from the Rockefeller Memorial Chapel. The building addresses multiple communities with components that are stacked, rotated, and oriented not only towards the University campus and downtown Chicago, but also towards the Woodlawn neighborhood immediately south of the University campus. The building serves as a hub for the broad range of people and activities at the University of Chicago, while its design rethinks and improves the traditional convention center. The building’s flexible spaces can accommodate formal and informal gatherings, as well as much needed multipurpose meeting spaces for workshops, symposia, and lectures.

The building comprises a two-story base and a slender, eight-story tower organized as a stack of neighborhoods, each coalescing around a private social lounge. A fulcrum point in the massing of the tower—the stitch line—balances the opposing north and south cantilevers to create a self-supporting structure similar to a seesaw, allowing for large cantilevers with a minimal amount of concrete. The 40-foot cantilever—one of the longest spanning concrete cantilevers in the city—at the north entry of the building welcomes visitors and provides a space to congregate before and after events.

The project achieves LEED-Gold certification and establishes a connection to the natural environment. The building integrates bird-safe technology into its glass façade, green roofs, rain gardens, and landscape that incorporates native flora. . The building was designed to bring large amounts of natural light into all meeting rooms, thereby cutting down on energy costs. In addition, it uses energy efficient conditioning systems that achieve indoor comfort levels primarily via passive radiant technology, significantly mitigating its carbon footprint.

View Building Information on CTBUH.org