AIA Award for Roosevelt University

Innovative vertical campus stacks facilities and promotes sustainable behavior.

Creating a significant impact on Chicago’s skyline, the 32-story, 420,000 sf Wabash Building for Roosevelt University recently received the American Institute of Architects (AIA) SustainABILITY Leadership Award. The Chicago chapter of the AIA Design Excellence Awards honor outstanding work from Chicago architecture firms found in various categories such as Distinguished Building, Divine Detail, Interior Architecture and SustainABILITY Leadership.

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The mixed-use ‘vertical campus’ at 425 S Wabash Avenue in Chicago was erected on a 17,300 sf mid-block greyfield, combining five buildings into a sleek and wavy glass façade. The Wabash Building stacks facilities that would usually be located in separate buildings like classrooms, laboratories, a student union, student services, and more than 600 residential beds. The building acknowledges its past and celebrates the present through its fluid connections to Roosevelt University’s national landmark Auditorium Building, which was the nation’s first mixed-use building, combining a theatre, offices and hotel in one space.

VOA designed the Wabash Building to support the University’s mission, which is based on the transformative values of education and social justice. Additionally, the interior was designed to promote sustainable behavior and sustainable education by encouraging users to take stairs in lieu of elevators through bright stairwells and interior signage.

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The Wabash Building for Roosevelt University received LEED Gold certification by achieving 28% energy and 35% water conservation, while receiving 72% of its energy from renewable sources. Much of its sustainability success is attributed to strategic program stacking, natural ventilation, rainwater harvesting, massing, latent-heat recovery and building orientation. Along with the building’s abundant natural light, its interior includes composting systems, no/low VOC finishes, 38% recycled material and 73% FSC wood.

The Wabash Building speaks to Chicago’s architectural legacy, serves its diverse populace, and provides a healthier environment to live, work and learn.

Photos by Tom Rossiter

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