University of Chicago

A dramatic collaborative study space...

...and a hip, comfortable student lounge

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Chicago, Illinois

Existing Conditions

The lofted fourth floor of Ryerson Hall on the main campus of the University had been allocated for Master of Computer Science students. The technology, furnishings, finishes, and space plan were outdated and incompatible with the 21st century program housed in the space.

Design Challenge

The fourth floor of Ryerson Hall had been allocated for students in the Master of Computer Science program, but was populated with bulky, ugly study carrels that impeded communication between students. Teaching and lecture areas were small and insufficient, and the whole look of the environment contrasted sharply with the forward-looking, progressive image the program wished to project. There were no comfortable spaces for students to gather socially or collaborate on projects, and the entire space needed to accommodate the latest wireless technology and communications equipment.

Design Solution

Focusing on the program director’s request for collaborative space, Bradley Architects teamed with Marcia Clawson Interiors to create an environment that could be both flexible and inspiring while remaining professionally attractive and comfortable for students and faculty.

A main component of the design centered on the creation of elliptical work spaces that would accommodate up to five students at a time on each side of “shoji” panel-inspired privacy screens. The clean lines of the design lend a professional look to the rooms while allowing for maximum flexibility and social interaction among students.

The student lounge areas in particular were designed with this in mind. Bold colored furnishings play against the background design, and everything focuses on the needs of the mobile computerized student body. Wireless technology, comfortable lounge areas, and arced counter ledges provide the perfect environment for students to sit down, log in, and chill out.