International House

1414 East 59th Street; about 500 residents

By Asher Klein

For those familiar with the Internatonal House’s Assembly Hall—and the Library, Courtyard, Board Room, for that matter—it should come as no surprise that it was picked to host U of C professor Yoichiro Nambu’s simulcast 2008 Physics Nobel Prize acceptance speech. I-House, as it is known to those who live and work there, is one of the grandest buildings on campus, and it is a choice venue for respected speakers and large events.

The space often hosts performances by student groups and talks by prominent figures, including Tariq Ali, Naomi Klein, and the Guerrilla Girls.

But I-House, at 59th Street between Dorchester and Blackstone, is more than a venue; it’s also a dormitory, holding up to 486 students. It has a reputation for being one of the most scholarly dormitories, and some nonresidents take advantage of the atmosphere and head there to study. It has been home to four other Nobel Prize winners while they worked at the U of C, including Enrico Fermi from 1940 to 1942.

Prospective residents must apply to live at I-House, and the admissions team strives to maintain “a balanced ratio of U.S. to international applicants” for the sake of diversity, according to the admissions Web page. The dorm houses graduate and undergraduate students, as well as students from other Chicago institutions, a key feature for an institution that considers itself a part of the greater Chicago community.

The residence also offers fellowships to help bring in exceptional students. Separate awards are given to College students, graduate students, and non-University returning residents.

I-House was built in 1932 and founded by John D. Rockefeller. Home to the University’s English Language Institute, it has 15 sister institutions in the U.S., Australia, Paris, London, and Taiwan.