Campus extends south

By Andrew Alexander

Construction on South Campus is proceeding well, administrators told two dozen community members at a meeting Thursday in the School of Social Service Administration.

The meeting is a quarterly opportunity for residents to share their concerns and hear campus officials speak about ongoing projects, said Sonya Malunda, assistant vice president for Community and Government Affairs.

“We’d like you to call us and let us know what’s happening in the community and how we can do our job better,” she said at the meeting.

The U of C will be setting up a campus construction hotline at (773) 834-2020, Malunda said.

Many neighbors, however, were not so sure about how the University has approached the construction, voicing complaints of construction workers starting early in the morning and of excessive noise and vibration coming from the construction projects.

The U of C Master Plan calls for extensive construction and beautification on the block-wide stretch of campus between East 60th and 61st Streets and South Cottage Grove and Stony Island Avenues.

City of Chicago ordinances require that all construction within 600 feet of residential buildings take place between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Residents also said that streets used by construction vehicles were not cleaned often enough, resulting in dirt- and mud-covered streets.

The U of C is collaborating with the Chicago Park District to build a $1.5 million “winter garden” on the south strip of the Midway between Ellis and Woodlawn Avenues, similar to the garden that now exists on the north strip of the Midway between South Ellis and South Woodlawn Avenues.

A pavilion for large gatherings will be located at the east end of the garden. The U of C hopes to have the garden open by the spring of 2007. The cost will be shared with the Park District.

The U of C has also demolished the former Amoco gas station at East 60th Street and South Cottage Grove Avenue in an effort to beautify the land surrounding the Midway. The gas station’s lease expired this summer.

The competition for an architect for the Center for Creative and Performing Arts at East 60th Street and South Ellis Avenue has been narrowed to five finalists, according to David Thompson, associate dean of the Humanities. The finalists will visit campus in late November to be interviewed by the jury, which consists of administrators and trustees.

The winning architect is expected to be approved by the Board of Trustees in January, allowing design work to begin on the 180,000-square-foot structure, which will include darkrooms, theaters, and rehearsal space.

Workers have started pouring concrete for the first floor of the combined parking lot and office building at East 61st Street and South Drexel Avenue.

The building will provide about 1,000 parking spaces for the U of C Hospitals on its northwest side and 70,000 square feet of office space on the southeast side.

Workers have finished installing a watertight retaining wall around the perimeter of the new dormitory south of Burton-Judson Courts, and are about to begin excavating the 40-foot-deep basement.

Joe Chronister, director of Design and Production for Facilities Services, said that the office hopes to begin pouring the foundation in December and to start work on the first floor of the dorm by March.

When finished, the dorm will share a new underground loading dock with the Law School. A temporary parking lot for the Law School is being built to replace spaces lost to the new dorm.

The U of C hopes to begin work in December on a new chilled-water plant behind the University Press building at East 61st Street and South Dorchester Avenue.

The glass-enclosed building is being designed by noted Chicago architect Helmut Jahn, of Murphy/Jahn Architects, who is also designing the addition to the Regenstein library.

The building will be directly north of the Carnegie School, and so the U of C is working to limit truck deliveries to certain hours and hiring traffic guards to keep the area safe for students.

The chilled-water plant will supply the air-conditioning systems in south campus buildings via a to-be-built utility corridor that will run just north of 61st Street and include chilled water, steam pipes, and telecommunications cables.

The University is waiting for bids to come in before choosing a contractor. Construction on the corridor will begin at the chiller plant and move west to the Center for Creative and Performing Arts.

Once finished, the corridor will be topped with a landscaped 30-foot setback from 61st Street.

“Our end goal is to create a gateway from Woodlawn into our campus and from campus into the community,” Malunda said.

The U of C is planning a second combined parking and office-space building at 61st Street and Woodlawn Avenue, both to replace spaces lost to construction and as part of a “long-term goal to consolidate parking” at a single location on South Campus, said Brian Shaw, director of Parking and Transportation Services.

The building, which is scheduled to break ground next summer, will likely house retail on the first floor and office space on the top floors.

The U of C is also planning to replace the clay tile roof and restore the façade of Burton-Judson Courts, since both have been mostly untouched since the dormitory was built in 1930.

There are also plans to renovate the former Illinois Bell Building at 6045 South Kenwood Avenue to provide space for the Toyota Technical Institute and other offices.