Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
 Inside the Roosevelt

Young Professionals Committee hosts tour of Chicago’s newest skyscraper

Chicago, May 9, 2012

See more tours and events.

Four days after the official opening of Roosevelt University’s new tower, invited guests of the CTBUH’s Young Professionals Committee were treated to a tour of the newest addition to the Chicago skyline.

VOA principal Christopher Groesbeck addresses the Young Professionals' guests in Roosevelt University's tower

The 143-meter (469 feet) slender strip of wavy blue-green glass is one of the tallest university campuses in the world, with a full array of classrooms, offices and student facilities stacked below more than 600 student residences.

The project provided a wide array of challenges for the architects and engineers, according to VOA principal Christopher Groesbeck, who led the tours. In addition to creating a modern university with space for social and cultural interactions, the tower needed to connect to the University’s existing Auditorium Building, a historic landmark.

Roosevelt Tower seen from the street.

“It had to be part of the larger campus, part of the larger urban fabric,” Mr. Groesbeck said.

About 50 professionals from around the Chicago area attended the tour, the second event organized by the Young Professionals Committee. Other organizers included Magnusson Klemencic Associates, the structural engineers on the project, and McHugh Construction, which sponsored a networking event after the tour.

“We want to bring together students and professionals in different ways,” said Sergio Valentini, the chairman of the Young Professionals Committee and a project architect at Murphy/Jahn. “Roosevelt University provided a great opportunity to get an insider’s view of one of the most distinctive and innovative new buildings in Chicago.”

Jeffrey Hrubec, VOA senior vice president, speaks in a Roosevelt University communal study area

The Roosevelt tower has already drawn praise for its efficiency and character, which makes it more than eye-candy. The design was reportedly inspired by the stacked rhomboids of sculptor Constantin Brancusi's “Endless Column.”

“It is a taut, almost monolithic piece of architectural sculpture that fully takes advantage of its prime position across from Chicago's front yard,” Chicago Tribune critic Blair Kamin wrote. “Like the Trump International Hotel & Tower, it assumes ever-shifting identities as the sun and clouds play on it. It is at once a foreground shape and a background building, its south front creating a perfect backdrop for the Auditorium's muscular tower.”

An offset core helped free up space for social and study areas, in hopes of making the building more of a campus and less of an office building. Large lecture halls, a dance auditorium, fitness facility and open study spaces were made possible by the design.

The zig-zag shape also accommodates communal study areas, offering spectacular views of Grant Park and the surrounding city.

Visitors enjoy the tower's views of the city.

“Universities are connected by the outer spaces, the space outside the classrooms,” Mr. Groesbeck said.

Throughout the tower splashes of bright colors help define spaces.

“We were not bashful with the use of color in the building,” Mr. Groesbeck said.

The tour group surprised University president Charles Middleton, who was spending his first day in his new office. Collaboration with the university and Mr. Middleton’s willingness to work with the architects was a key to the building design, creating an environment for innovation and problem solving, Mr. Groesbeck said.

The Young Professionals Committee plans more events touring buildings. The committee, established for professionals under 35, seeks to integrate and engage the younger generation of architects, engineers, and builders in the CTBUH’s broader mission.

For more information on the group, and to stay up to date with planned events, visit the Young Professionals Committee webpage and join the group’s LinkedIn group.