The University of Chicago Cobb Gate

Symbolic Hundreds of people a day become participants in the University's rich educational dialogue by traveling through the historic Gate.

The historic renovation of the iconic gate blends with the original, while permitting people to more easily pass through its portal.

Chicago, Illinois
Scope of Services
Architectural Design

Construction Type

Special Recognition
American Institute of Architects Chicago, Divine Detail Award
Association of Licensed Architects, Award of Merit
Architect Magazine, feature

Built in 1897, and on axis from The University of Chicago’s main library to the historic quad, Cobb Gate is a key element of campus history and circulation. As part of a previous campuswide survey for accessibility compliance LCM discovered the walking slope through Cobb Gate exceeded permissible slopes. There were other challenges as well. Cobb Gate contains entrances to buildings on either side and is also used as an entry point for emergency vehicles. Below-grade is a utility tunnel connecting adjacent buildings, which needed to be lowered. The design had to meet stringent structural and clearance requirements to accommodate these needs.

The design solution lowers the pavement 15 inches to meet accessibility compliance but, as a result, sections of the original unfinished foundation stones were exposed. Some stones were refinished while others were concealed by new construction. The 100-year-old iron gates were removed and restored to working order for the first time in many years. We redesigned entrances on the east and west sides, adding limestone stairs and metal railings carefully detailed to complement the historic structure.

The changes blend with the original so they go unnoticed by those who pass through this historic gateway every day.