February 18, 1999
Vol. 18 No. 10

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    University retains world-renowned architects to design new structures

    By Jennifer Leovy
    News Office

    The University has selected internationally acclaimed architects Cesar Pelli and Ricardo Legorreta to design two campus buildings that are key parts of the University’s campus master plan for the coming decade. The board of trustees has already approved $200 million in capital improvements related to the master plan.

    Pelli will design the University’s new Gerald Ratner Athletics Center. Legorreta will design the new residence halls.

    “The designs of Pelli and Legorreta will add to a campus known worldwide for its beauty and abundance of great architecture,” said President Sonnenschein. “We are confident that this legacy will inspire their most outstanding work.”

    The University’s buildings have been designed by a host of prominent architects such as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe; Eero Saarinen; Skidmore, Owings and Merrill; and Frank Lloyd Wright.

    Pelli said, “My inspiration for the athletics center will come from the rich campus context surrounding the center’s future site. As is true for all of my designs, the aesthetic qualities of the athletics center will be unique to its location and purpose.” The University’s first new athletics center in 67 years, the Gerald Ratner Athletics Center will be located at 55th Street and Ellis Avenue. It will serve as a recreation center and student meeting place. The facility will include a 50-meter swimming pool, practice gymnasiums, a fitness center, dance classrooms, locker rooms and offices for athletics staff and faculty. A new parking structure will be located across the street. The University plans to open the facility in 2002.

    Discussing the residence halls, Legorreta said, “The architecture of a building should lift the inhabitants’ spirits. My focus for the residence halls will be to design a friendly, open environment where students also have peace and privacy.” The residence halls will be located near the Joseph Regenstein Library (designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill in 1970) on 56th Street between Ellis and University avenues. The University plans to open the facility in 2001.

    Both architects have consistently received awards for outstanding design. The American Institute of Architects selected Pelli as one of the most influential living American architects in 1991, ranking his World Financial Center and Winter Garden as one of the 10 best works of American architecture since 1980. Pelli’s firm received the AIA Firm Award in 1989.

    In 1994, Legorreta received the AIA Award for Religious Architecture for his design of the Metropolitan Cathedral in Managua, Nicaragua. A member of the International Academy of Architecture and an honorary fellow of the American Institute of Architects, Legorreta was a jury member for the Pritzker Prize from 1981 to 1994.

    Both architects spent their early design years learning from masters. Pelli received his Master of Architecture from the University of Illinois and then worked in the offices of Eero Saarinen for 10 years, eventually founding Cesar Pelli & Associates in 1977––the same year he began his seven-year tenure as dean of the Yale University School of Architecture. Legorreta received his Bachelor of Architecture at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma of Mexico and worked with Mexican architect Jose Villagran for 12 years before founding Legorreta Arquitectos 30 years ago. Legorreta also has been a professor of architecture at Harvard University, the University of Texas and UCLA.

    Pelli, noted for designing the tallest building in the world, the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, also has designed a variety of public buildings, including the World Financial Center and the Museum of Modern Art expansion in New York and the New Terminal at Washington National Airport. Pelli’s local work includes the 181 W. Madison building in Chicago and the Lutheran General Hospital Master Plan and Yacktman Pavilion in Park Ridge, Ill.

    Legorreta, first noted for his Camino Real Hotel in Mexico City, has designed housing for residential communities and individual homes throughout Mexico and the American Southwest, and he has designed university buildings, including residence halls, at such institutions as Stanford and UCLA. In the United States, Legorreta’s most recognized works include the San Antonio Public Library, the Pershing Square city park in Los Angeles, IBM’s mixed-use development in Dallas, and the Children’s Discovery Museum and the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, Calif.