Architect: Diller Scofidio + Renfro
Address: 1201 E. 60th St.
Convening the Power of Ideas
A center for intellectual, institutional and academic exchange, the David Rubenstein Forum was designed to host events that promote inquiry, scholarly collaboration, and the open exchange of ideas.
“The architecture of the University of Chicago has traditionally sought to inspire, encourage and support the pursuit and exchange of insight and understanding,” said President Robert J. Zimmer. “The David Rubenstein Forum builds upon this tradition, drawing from and extending the University’s rich legacy of architecture, while enhancing our convening power as a center of scholarship, education and impact.”
The 90,000-square-foot facility provides much-needed meeting spaces for workshops, symposia and lectures. It was named in honor of University Trustee and alumnus David M. Rubenstein, JD’73, in recognition of his ongoing generosity to the University.
Located at the southeast corner of Woodlawn Avenue and 60th Street, the Forum affords views of the campus and the Midway Plaisance, the city skyline and Lake Michigan.
The overall design features a two-story base and a ten-story tower, echoing the Logan Center for the Arts to the west. The Forum’s tower is organized into distinct “neighborhoods,” which are flexible to accommodate both formal and informal encounters, and each organized around a central prefunction lounge to foster community and event identity. The base includes a stunning lobby and two dining spaces in addition to the Forum’s largest event space, the University Room, which can accommodate up to 600 guests theater style. The third and fourth floors house the 285-seat Friedman Hall—resting just above the campus canopy—and are connected by a double-height prefunction space on the building’s south end, filled with natural light. Floors five through seven feature tiered and flat meeting rooms and amenities. The eighth and ninth floors boast elevated rooms, including the Peter May Boardroom, which can comfortably host groups approaching 70 guests with its tiered seating. The City View Room on the tenth floor connects the University to the city of Chicago with panoramic vistas of the downtown skyline.
The stacked and rotating organization destabilizes the more generic concepts of front and back and enables the building to provide sweeping vistas of campus, the city and Lake Michigan. The Forum also boasts a striking 35-foot cantilever, which shelters the 60th Street entrance, blurring the distinction between inside and out, and supporting the project’s goal of encouraging the outward engagement of scholars and dignitaries from around the world who will convene within its walls.
With a sustainable design to be certified LEED Gold, the David Rubenstein Forum connects its guests with the outdoors via floor-to-ceiling, panoramic vistas and expansive natural light that evokes a retreat-like setting.