UIC Library’s IDEA Commons Wins Two Architectural Design Awards

The IDEA Commons, a cutting-edge learning and meeting environment at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Richard J. Daley Library, has proved popular with students, who have packed the place around the clock since its opening a year ago.  [Note: Photos for download at http://newsphoto.lib.uic.edu/v/ideacommons/.]

Now it has been recognized by Chicago’s architecture establishment as well.

The American Institute of Architects’ Chicago chapter awarded the IDEA Commons two Design Excellence citations of merit. In all, the chapter recognized 45 projects around the world that were designed by Chicago architecture firms.

The IDEA Commons was cited in the categories of distinguished building and interior architecture. Juries of renowned architects from around the country selected the winners from a field of more than 250 entries. The awards were presented during the AIA Chicago’s 57th annual Designight in the Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier last week.

Designed by David Woodhouse Architects, the IDEA Commons — named for the acronym “Information, Data, Expertise, Access” — was funded by a mix of private donations and student fees. Occupying half of the first floor of the Daley Library, it offers flexible meeting spaces, a café, a performance space, moveable furniture, high-tech classrooms, designated reading areas, more than 100 computers, and an instructional technology lab and student media lab.

“We wanted to learn from what worked for others,” said Mary Case, head of the UIC Library. “We also wanted to be attentive to the attractiveness of the space to students, and respectful to Walter Netsch’s original architecture.”

The space is open to UIC students, faculty and staff around the clock from 1 p.m. on Sunday through 7 p.m. Friday.

UIC ranks among the nation’s leading research universities and is Chicago’s largest university with 27,500 students, 12,000 faculty and staff, 15 colleges and the state’s major public medical center. A hallmark of the campus is the Great Cities Commitment, through which UIC faculty, students and staff engage with community, corporate, foundation and government partners in hundreds of programs to improve the quality of life in metropolitan areas around the world.

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