Main Quadrangle

Completed: 1892
Architect: Henry Ives Cobb
Address: 5811 E. 58th St
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The Gothic Campus
Designed by architect Henry Ives Cobb of the Chicago School, the genius of University of Chicago Main Quadrangle is in its form-follows-function modernity. From Kent Chemical Laboratory’s large octagonal lecture hall to the observatory atop Ryerson Hall, the graceful buildings are not only visually appealing, but entirely functional as well. This emphasis on usage has been present in campus buildings since the beginning of Cobb’s Neo-Gothic vision, one that sought to include both innovation and convention.

Horto in Urbs
Comprised of 215 acres of green space, the Main Quadrangles of the University of Chicago have been officially designated a Botanic Garden by the American Public Garden Association since 1997. Aided by more than a dozen donor-sponsored gardens, this green expanse at the heart of campus has been an integral part of the University experience since its founding, whether it be the site of quiet contemplation and study or pick-up Frisbee games.

Contrast to Cohere
However, to only speak of the blooms and flowers on the Quad is to miss what they lie in direct conversation with: the Gothic architecture that defines the University. Praised at the time of their inception, the towering limestone structures of the Main Quadrangles have now fulfilled their roles as the University’s sentinels for more than 100 years and become synonymous with permanence and immortality to generations of students. In the dialogue between these elements, the lush flora and principal architect Henry Ives Cobb’s erudite stylistic choice, we come across one of the great moments of American architecture.