September 19, 2001

Landscape component of Master Plan underway

The University of Chicago continued in its mission to beautify campus this summer by constructing a new entryway at the intersection of 58th Street and University Avenue between the Albert Pick Hall for International Studies and Eckhart Hall.

Dubbed the “Bottle Neck Project," the idea for the entryway initially arose from the need to reconstruct steam lines which run beneath the street. The original steam tunnels, constructed out of mortar and brick, needed to be rebuilt using concrete.

“The project is two-fold," said project manager Mike Gramhofer.

“It also includes increasing the size of the piping to numerous buildings. The supply pipes, return pipes, and pneumatic pipes deliver air to the buildings. Because of the increase in campus size, there is a need to feed more steam to these buildings, which means a need for larger-diameter tunnels."

Above ground, the project includes plans to create a new entryway to the quads. Once the mechanical work is done, construction will begin on the entrance to the Quads. The intersection of 58th and University will include new landscaping, hedges, and benches — Gramhofer describes it as a plan for a “sort of botanical garden."

The entryway, designed by Sasaki Associates, will include flowering trees lining both the north and south sides of the entrance, hedges accented with flowers running from Pick Hall to Eckhart Hall, and an open lawn bordered by flower beds at the northeast corner of the quads where there were once tennis courts.

The design was approved by a consensus of faculty, students, staff, and neighbors. University Architect Curt Heuring says that the landscaping will preserve the openness of the quadrangle and provide a nice front door for both Hyde Park and the University communities.

“I think it will be very highly received by the trustees," said Robert Holliday, director of facilities services project management. “It is a very nice feature. The new entranceway will create a place where people can sit and chat and enjoy themselves."

Students, however, have expressed mixed feelings. “It's both good and bad," said Jacqueline Greer, a University graduate.

“The University needs some good, concrete specifications. Campus and Hyde Park are very different; people have lived their whole lives a few blocks away and they have no idea where the University starts. It will be nice and kind of formal, maybe instill a little pride in the students, but I don't know how much people will care. The U of C is creating more things like this, almost as an afterthought."