UIC to cut ribbon on new $100M Academic and Residential Complex

The area will also feature new traffic calming crossings and protected bike lanes that are expected to be completed in the fall.

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An image taken from a live stream of construction of the new Academic and Residential Complex on the campus of University of Illinois at Chicago.

An image taken from a live stream of construction of the new Academic and Residential Complex on the campus of University of Illinois at Chicago.

University of Illinois at Chicago

Summer may have only just begun, but the University of Illinois at Chicago plans to unveil its newest residential and academic facility to open for the upcoming fall semester next week.

The new $100 million building, on the northwest corner of Harrison and Morgan Streets, also comes with a dramatic change to the intersection that will provide pedestrians and cyclists better protection from motorists, officials say.

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The new Academic and Residential Complex at UIC.

Sun-Times staff photo

Students in August will begin moving into the new dormitory spaces, which will eventually house 550 students, according to Rex Tolliver, vice chancellor for Student Affairs. More than 500 students will also use the building’s classrooms, study rooms and proposed cafe each day.

The university will hold a ribbon cutting for the new building July 18.

The new structure was designed with a nod to the campus’ signature brutalist architecture, while also being more attractive to a growing student body.

“Students in the past have found the brutalist architecture to be a bit harsh and uninviting,” Tolliver said of the concrete and brick structures that dominate the campus.

The new building’s friendlier exterior features large glass windows to let in natural light and expansive spaces inside where students can congregate.

“With the amount of growth we’ve seen, we’re growing and bursting at the seams,” Tolliver said of university enrollment. “The new building will help satisfy our need to find new academic and student living spaces.”

With the influx of students who will be commuting to and from the building, Tolliver said the school has focused on redesigning aspects of Harrison Street to calm traffic.

The most obvious change will be the university’s logo set into a new graded intersection at Morgan and Harrison streets. The purpose was two-fold: to alert drivers to the presence of students and to allow the school a branding opportunity, Tolliver said.

The intersection, which is expected to re-open to traffic on Friday, will also feature a new traffic signal pattern that will stop motorists in all three directions at once, allowing pedestrians to cross more confidently.

Tolliver acknowledged that traffic flow can be an issue in the area, with cars pulling over into bike lanes to drop off students and two CTA bus routes that operate on the street, but said the changes were made with student safety in mind.

“There will be significantly more students crossing there through the day, and it does get congested,” Tolliver said. “All of the changes were made to ensure we’re keeping our students safe.”

Harrison Street will also get protected bike lanes with green pavement striping that are expected to be completed in the fall, according to Susan Hofer, a spokeswoman for the Chicago Department of Transportation. Some areas will have concrete dividers to separate bicyclists and scooter riders from other traffic and reflective “flexible delineators” in other areas that can be removed in the event of snowstorm to allow the city’s plow trucks to clear the street.

Streetview of a new graded intersection embedded with the University of Illinois at Chicago logo at the intersection of Harrison and Morgan Streets on the school’s campus.

Streetview of a new graded intersection embedded with the University of Illinois at Chicago logo at the intersection of Harrison and Morgan Streets on the school’s campus.

Matthew Hendrickson/Sun-Times

“It’s always a pleasure for CDOT to be able to partner with an institution dedicated to keeping pedestrians and bicyclists safe,” Hofer said of the project, which was co-financed by the agency and the university. UIC chipped in $150,000 toward the street improvements.

Harrison Street at Racine Avenue will also get a graded pedestrian crossing and sidewalks at several crossings will be widened to shorten the crossing distance for pedestrians and slow traffic, Hofer said.

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