Nov. 18, 1999
Vol. 19 No. 5

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    Architects selected for Bartlett, landscaping

    By Jennifer Leovy
    News Office

    The University’s Board of Trustees has approved the architect-selection committee’s choice of two architectural firms to augment the campus’ world-renowned architecture and distinctive quadrangle design.

    Sasaki Associates Inc. has been chosen to design the landscapes for new buildings and quadrangles in conjunction with the University’s Campus Master Plan. Bruner/Cott & Associates Inc. will design the renovations for historic Bartlett Gymnasium, converting the 95-year-old building to a new dining commons.

    The work of Sasaki Associates and Bruner/Cott & Associates will contribute to Chicago’s rich botanic and architectural history and will join the creations of such visionaries as Frank Lloyd Wright (Robie House), Frederick Law Olmsted (Midway Plaisance), Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (School of Social Service Administration Building) and Eero Saarinen (Laird Bell Law Quadrangle).

    “The architects we select for our Campus Master Plan are expected first of all to understand the University’s distinctive focus on teaching and research,” said University President Hugo Sonnenschein. “But they must also be committed to respecting and developing into the next century one of the nation’s most beautiful university campuses. We expect both designers to enhance our University’s historic landscapes––Sasaki for our green space and Bruner/Cott for what will become one of the most beautiful University dining halls in the country.”

    Sasaki Associates will develop a landscape plan to increase the sense of collegial community in the outdoor spaces defined by new buildings. The firm also will enhance pedestrians’ campus experience with visual improvements such as additional plantings and new lighting on the quadrangles, campus edges and gateways. Specific landscaping projects include designs for a new north-campus quadrangle and for the athletics center, parking structure and residence halls.

    Sasaki Associates has designed master plans, landscape architecture and buildings for more than 200 colleges and universities across the country. Among its projects are the landscape master plans for Vassar College andRice University and an update of the visual concepts and historic spaces of Purdue University’s 1924 master plan.

    The firm also designed 2,770 acres of campus space and a 160-acre arboretum master plan at the University of Illinois in Champaign, Ill. Other institutional examples of Sasaki designs include the National Arboretum in Washington, D.C., and the Smithsonian Institution’s Enid Haupt Gardens.

    In 1997, the American Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboreta recognized the University campus as an official botanical garden, the only campus in the Chicago metropolitan area to achieve this distinction.

    Early campus landscape designers were John Coulter, the first Chair of Chicago’s Botany Department; Ossian Simonds; Beatrix Jones Farrand; and Olmsted and Olmsted. Highlights of the garden include the Washington Elm, which arrived as a seedling from Mt. Vernon and is located on the Main Quadrangle in front of Rosenwald Hall; the oak trees in the Classics and Social Sciences quadrangles, which predate the University; and the aralias found along the edge of the Hull Gate fence adjacent to Botany Pond, a rare variety thought to be Coulter’s legacy dating from the turn of the century.

    The University has one of the largest stands of American elm trees in Chicago and is currently working with the Morton Arboretum to test disease-resistant elms with the hope of preserving the elm from obsolescence in the United States.

    Bruner/Cott, recognized as a full-service architectural and historic-preservation firm, will convert Bartlett Gymnasium to a dining hall and construct a one-story addition that will be adjacent to the new residence halls designed by architect Ricardo Legorreta. According to Steve Klass, Deputy Dean of Student Services, the new 550-seat dining facility will be nearly twice the size of any dining room on campus and will serve more than 1,000 students. It also will likely be the only dining hall in the country with a stained-glass window with more than 15,000 pieces of glass designed by Edward Sperry, an associate of Louis Comfort Tiffany.

    Bruner/Cott has designed a multitude of campus renovations, including historic dining halls at MIT, Vanderbilt University and Harvard University––a design that won the 1997 American Institute of Architects Honor Award for Architecture. The firm also designed the unlikely conversion of a gothic chapel to a student center at Williams College and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art.

    Bartlett Dining Hall and additional landscaping are just two of the new projects in a $500 million Campus Master Plan that will substantially improve the University’s facilities.

    Other projects in progress are the University Press Building, the Gerald Ratner Athletics Center, a new parking structure and residence halls. Cesar Pelli, whose projects include the tallest building in the world, the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, will design the athletics center and parking structure. Legorreta, whose most recognized works include the San Antonio Public Library and the Pershing Square city park in Los Angeles, will design the new residence halls.