The University of Chicago, Comer Children`s Hospital

Chicago, Illinois

The University of Chicago is situated on Chicago’s South Side in the midst of a culturally diverse and economically disadvantaged community.

Inspired by a commitment to improving the status of children while acknowledging the hospital’s more regional service area, Gary Comer, former owner of Lands’ End, gave a generous gift to the building program. The ADDITIONAL INFORMATIONASSOCIATED FIRMHLM DesignCOST PER SQ FT$289.00FEATURED IN2005 Architectural PortfolioSUB CATEGORYSpecialized Children’s Hospital opened in February 2005.

The Gothic, ivy-covered limestone buildings on campus stand in contrast to the surrounding neighborhood, but their storybook quality, looming gargoyles and climbing ivy offered rich ideas that inspired the design of the children’s hospital—ideas of growth and enrichment.

The architectural character of the hospital is a decidedly modern one, with a filigree of leaves imprinted into the precast base. It not only recalls the character of older campus buildings, but also makes a life-affirming statement of its own. The glass curtainwall is layered and tinted in shades of green. At night, the entry tower glows with soft lighting that rotates through the full color spectrum.

The design emphasizes a strong artwork program that reflects the diversity of the community. The main lobby has a curved, fabric ceiling that ensures a quiet welcome for visitors. The centerpiece is a water feature and aquarium, and three water colonnades that serve as a quiet backdrop for the seating area. Colored lighting creates a kind of illuminated artwork program on corridor walls.