Construction on a new mixed-use facility along 61st Street will begin this summer, as representatives from the University of Chicago unveiled slight changes to the building’s design at a community meeting last week. 

The project is part of the U. of C.’s string of development at the southern edge of its campus, including a new residence hall that opened last fall and the Rubenstein Forum, an academic conference center located on 60th Street between Woodlawn Avenue and Kimbark Avenue. 

The mixed-use facility at 1306 East 61st Street includes a four-level, 323-space public parking garage, as well as a community meeting room that can hold up to 48 people, and support space for the adjacent athletic fields. The building sits just south of the Keller Center, which was renovated in 2018 and now houses the Harris School of Public Policy. 

Construction on the building will begin this summer, said Wendy Walker Williams, executive director of community partnerships with the U. of C.’s Office of Civic Engagement, at the meeting last Wednesday. It is tentatively scheduled to finish next spring. (A second phase of construction that includes a recreation center is being postponed.) 

There have been several small changes to the building design. The number of parking spaces has increased slightly from 315 to 323, and the height of the building has been lowered from 54 feet to 51 feet and one inch. 

In response to concerns raised at community meetings over the last few years, the lighting design in the parking garage has also been changed. Some fixtures will include glare lenses, baffles, and recesses to reduce the amount of light emanating from the building. Concrete bumper walls will also block light from parked cars. 

“The amount of light that escapes the parking structure and the ambient light spillage will be comparable to all other parking garages on campus,” Williams said. “The car headlights will not shine into the windows at 6100 South Kimbark Avenue, the apartment building right across the street.” 

The Study Hotel, another project along the corridor of development that includes the Rubenstein Forum and Keller Center, is set to open this fall, according to Paul McGowan, president and founder of the hotel’s parent company. 

“We are continuing to move forward, we’ll be installing finishes throughout the building this summer,” said McGowan. “We’ll move into our hiring phase for an approximate opening of September 2.”

This article has been edited to reflect that the address of the mixed-use facility is 1306 East 61st Street, not 6051 South Kimbark Avenue. 

Editor

Christian Belanger graduated from the University of Chicago in 2017. He has previously written for South Side Weekly, Chicago magazine and the Chicago Reader.

(1) comment

Ross Petersen

I don't know about your definition of this as a mixed use building. When will the recreation center be built? Right now, I think you should describe it as what it is - a parking garage. I don't think you can call this a mixed use building when the recreation center was initially part of this plan - and now it's not.

How is that a 'small change'?

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