David Rubenstein Forum
Diller Scofidio + Renfro
University of Chicago was originally founded as a scholarly retreat outside of the
city, and the Rubenstein Forum will expand on this rich tradition as an intellectual
destination on campus noted for its outward engagement of visiting scholars,
researchers and dignitaries. It will be a true university building, equally dedicated
to all of its many constituent departments and institutes; moreover, the building’s
ample social and break-out spaces will constitute a new University living room--a
comfortably furnished and energized environment in which chance encounters
and impromptu discussions abound.
The charged and serendipitous character of
these interior social spaces will spill out into the surrounding landscape, bringing
the building into dialogue with a larger ensemble of adjacent existing and future
buildings and green spaces. Here, building and landscape will come together along
a meandering mid-campus walk. Fundamental to this mission is the building’s height and
unique position on the Midway Plaisance, which allow for expansive
views toward the campus and surrounding communities as well as
downtown Chicago and Lake Michigan.
A most focused place of intellectual and social exchange, the
Forum combines spaces that are both formal and informal, calm
and animated, focused and diffuse, scheduled and spontaneous.
This mixing of attributes constitutes a fundamental unit to
building’s organization, which consists of a formal meeting room
+ an informal social space and ranges in scale from small breakout
rooms to a 300 person auditorium. These units collect into a
stack of five blocks, each uniquely oriented for views and daylight &
feature distinctive cladding both inside and out.
The key to deep focus for the meeting rooms is the control of visual and acoustic
noise. As visitors move from the social or pre-function spaces (North) to their
respective venues (South), a gradual winding down of distraction occurs--
natural light washes the meeting room in a warm and consistent daylighting
scene, acoustic treatments edit out external noise, and views of campus are
carefully framed to make the experience of each room distinctive. From this
baseline adjustment of the environment, users can fine tune each room to achieve
ideal conditions, darkening the room for a media presentation or adjusting the
temperature. This experience occurs in reverse upon leaving the meeting room as
views open up to campus, noise levels rise, and the smell of espresso wafts though
the air of the social spaces.