Harold Washington College Space Planning

Harold Washington College, the downtown Loop location of the City Colleges of Chicago, required a physical plan to accommodate their vision for the school’s Reinvention Campaign. The aging 290,000-square-feet physical plant is reimagined as a state-of-the-art learning environment. The building’s facades are reconsidered, with new exterior cladding that represents the concept of porosity and permeability, evoking the school’s role in its students’ absorption of knowledge. The distinctive new look establishes the college as the northern anchor in Chicago’s downtown higher education district.

A thoughtful expansion and reorganization of program elements provides various solutions. Specific programmatic enhancements include reconceiving the student services space, renovation of the campus library, the addition of a sculpture studio and wood shop, and a redesign of the Art and Architecture department. Functional improvements include accessibility upgrades, revised and enhanced lighting concepts, greater security, the introduction of gender neutral bathrooms, IT improvements and AV equipment upgrades. Exterior improvements include a new student outdoor plaza, branded signage that will garner visibility from the Elevated transit line, and a welcoming street presence.

LOCATION: Chicago, IL
CLIENT: City Colleges of Chicago
ARCHITECT: UrbanWorks, Ltd.
VISUALIZATION: UrbanWorks, Ltd. and Hoffman Visualization
PROJECT INITIATION: 2013
PROJECT COMPLETION: 2016
SITE AREA: 290,000 SF (building)