June 10, 1999
Vol. 18 No. 18

current issue
archive / search

    University Press to get new building to accommodate growth

    By William Harms
    News Office

    The University of Chicago Press will have its own building in 2001 to consolidate its operations, accommodate its growth and support its continuing worldwide success in academic publishing.

    Founded in 1891 when the University itself was established, the University Press is one of the oldest academic presses in the country, and it is by far the largest of any American university press, said Morris Philipson, Director of the Press.

    Groundbreaking for the new structure is scheduled for later this summer at 60th Street and Dorchester Avenue, north of the University’s steam plant. The four-story building will house book publishing and journal operations on three floors and have another floor available for a yet-to-be-named tenant.

    Until it moved into the Administration Building some 30 years ago, the Press had its own operations at 5750 S. Ellis Ave., a building that is now the University bookstore. That structure, which was built in 1902, also served as a temporary home for the Law School and Harper Memorial Library as the rest of the campus was being built.

    The Books Division of the Press now occupies the third and fourth floors of the Administration Building, and the Journals Division has offices on Woodlawn Avenue, Stony Island Avenue and in the Hyde Park Bank Building. In addition to its Hyde Park facilities, the Press maintains, in the Pullman neighborhood, a distribution facility for sale of its books, journals and services to other presses. This facility will remain separate from the Hyde Park operations.

    The growth of the University Press has required additional staffing, which has necessitated its need for additional space. “One of the ways we are expanding is through electronic publishing,” said Philipson. “We have increased our staff by 25 people, a 10 percent increase over two years, and more space is needed to accommodate that kind of growth.”

    The increase in electronic publishing comes from the Journals Division of the Press. “We now issue 11 of our 50 journals in electronic form, and in the next two or three years, we will more than double that number,” said Robert Shirrell, Manager of the Journals Division. “We want to continue to add new journals to our list of publications, and we simply do not have space to accommodate staff for those journals now,” Shirrell said.

    The Journals Division also has had an equally esteemed history. Among its 50 journals are 10 that are more than 100 years old, including the Journal of Religion and Journal of Near Eastern Studies. Electronic publishing brings the Journals Division into an expanding field of scholarship, Shirrell added.

    “With its vigorous publishing program of both books and journals, the Press does a high volume of business that is at least twice that of Harvard or Yale or Princeton,” said Philipson. “By any measure, Chicago is considered one of the leading university presses in the world.”

    Among the early books that brought the Press fame was John Dewey’s School and Society, a book published in 1899 that continues to be in print. The book, based on Dewey’s work at the Laboratory Schools, is one of the seminal volumes in the development of American education.

    Throughout its history, the Press has published books that have added fundamentally to American scholarship.

    Among those titles are Lisle Letters, a collection of more than 2,000 16th-century letters; the four-volume Journey to the West, one of the masterpieces of Chinese literature, translated and edited by Anthony Yu, the Carl Darling Buck Distinguished Service Professor in the Humanities; and the Critical Edition of the Works of Giuseppe Verdi, a monumental 31-volume project headed by Philip Gossett, Dean of the Humanities Division.

    The Press has published four of the intended eight volumes of the History of Cartography, a project The New York Times called “the most ambitious overview of map making ever undertaken.”

    The Press also has published books not conventionally thought of as scholarship. A recent best seller is One More Time, a selection of the columns of journalist Mike Royko. It also published Norman Maclean’s A River Runs Through It and Young Men and Fire.

    Reference books published by the Press, such as its Chicago Manual of Style, are sources of guidance throughout the country.

    “The Web has had a significant impact on the distribution of scholarship already, most importantly in the physical sciences and in biology and medicine,” Shirrell explained.

    “The use of the electronic medium will continue to increase in all areas of scholarship. The Press has been a leader in producing online versions of complex journals such as the Astrophysical Journal.

    “In the coming decade, we believe our ability to handle all aspects of electronic publishing––review of articles, editing, production, distribution, marketing, archiving––will be critical to our role in serving scholars.”

    The work of the University Press is overseen by the Board of University Publications, which reviews manuscripts and decides which ones will be published by the Press.

    The 16-member board is made up largely of University faculty members and is chaired by John Comaroff, the Harold H. Swift Distinguished Service Professor in Anthropology.

    The architect for the new building is Larry Booth of Booth Hansen Associates, an award-winning local architectural and planning firm. The architect for the interior is Frank Torchia of Torchia Associates.

    Project management is being handled by U.S. Equities, and construction will be undertaken by Fred Berglund and Sons Inc.