PRESERVATION

ILLINOIS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY 
PRITZKER SCIENCE CENTER

Location
Urbana, Illinois

Size
124,000 SF

Scope of Services
Architecture
Interior Design
Programming
Planning

 

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Navigating Intricacies 

The Robert A. Pritzker Science Center is the face of science on the IIT campus. Belonging to the College of Science and Letters, the original building in Miesian style was designed in 1966 by Myron Goldsmith, a pupil of Mies van der Rohe. Like many other Chicago buildings, the IIT campus gained landmark designation with its addition to the National Register of Historic Places in 2005. When we came along for the renovation of the Pritzker Science Center in 2013, many intricacies needed to be considered when modernizing this significant structure. The renovation was done in four phases from 2013 to 2018, upgrading the material and design elements for a future-forward building. 

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Invigorating the Spirit 

The renovation preserves the building’s original facade to reinforce its historic character and common vocabulary with the rest of the campus while upgrading it with several intuitive design details. While originally designed to be the main entrance, the west doors were being used only for exiting as they did not meet the Accessibility codes and standards. The renovation not only re-establishes them as the main entrance with respect to accessibility compliance, but also invigorates the entrance area as a focal point for science and innovation on campus. The landscaped exterior patio and plaza visibly extends into a light-infused interior collaboration space, creating a fluid indoor-outdoor connection.

Previously dull corridor spaces are transformed by incorporating natural light, color, and transparency. New collaborative breakout spaces become an extension of the learning environment and encourage interdisciplinary communication which is often a catalyst to scientific discovery. The new Dean’s Suite opens an existing configuration of confined, highly modular components in an iconic Miesian-style building to create a light-filled and interactive space. Custom wood blackout panels in the lecture hall mimic a DNA sequence, transforming a typical lecture hall into the most basic element of life.

Every significant and slight change in the master plan went through the structural and mechanical constraints of a landmark building, which were overcome by smart design decisions.

Future-Forward Learning 

Over the last 50 years, Science education has evolved from the traditional lecture-based model into collaborative, peer-based learning. The renovation upgrades the original spaces into active learning environments designed for flexibility and interactivity. Classrooms and laboratories support emerging pedagogies with advanced audio-visual equipment for augmented learning and flexible seating arrangements to accommodate multiple ways of teaching. Operable partitions, moveable furniture, and logical, efficient spatial planning place importance on flexibility and growth for the building’s future ambitions. 

More daylight, open and less linear space planning, and the integration of transparent materials energize and stimulate the building users. The impact of these new spaces helps the IIT College of Science reinforce its reputation as a world-class teaching and research hub and attract the best students and faculty worldwide.  

Classroom
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Doubling Down on Efficiency

LCM conducted an exterior and interior assessment and prepared a master plan of the 124,000-square feet complex to determine the future viability of the project and a comprehensive renovation schedule. BIM was utilized during the design process. The renovation emphasizes sustainability and reduction of the building’s carbon footprint on the environment.

The original building envelope is upgraded with numerous energy efficiency improvements while preserving its historic aesthetic. The thermal resistance of the dated envelope was weak, with large amounts of air infiltration from cracks in the glass and at deteriorated joints resulting in uncomfortable environmental conditions for building users. Better insulation has improved indoor thermal comfort and will result in reduced operating costs and a direct observable economic impact over the years. Recognizing the historical significance of the building envelope, selection of the new high-performance window system was done with careful study.

The original structure is upgraded with an energy-efficient HVAC system, systematic waterproofing, hazardous materials abatement, and acoustic improvements. New network infrastructure supports advanced computing. Building security is improved with new exterior lighting fixtures incorporated into the landscape plan. Energy-efficient fixtures are used throughout the building with occupancy sensor controls.

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