Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society

Completed: 1930
Architect: Denison Hull; Kliment Halsband Architects
Renovated: 2015
Architect: Kliment Halsband Architects
Address: 5701 S. Woodlawn Ave.
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Originally built in 1930 for the Meadville Theological School as administrative offices, classrooms, and library space, the building at 5701 S. Woodlawn Ave. has undertaken an extensive renovation led by Kliment Halsband Architects. The remodeled building, which opened its doors in spring 2015, now serves as the home of the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society. Through faculty research projects, a global fellows initiative, and exhibitions, the Neubauer Collegium creates new communities of inquiry and explores novel approaches to complex human questions at the University of Chicago and beyond.

The University’s adaptive reuse of the 16,000-square-foot building preserves its Neo-Gothic character while also embodying and supporting the vision and ideals for collaborative research that guides the Neubauer Collegium. Its redesign facilitates the ambitious research of faculty and visiting scholars from around the world by providing individual as well as shared spaces to pursue new approaches to questions that cut across disciplinary boundaries. The building is designed to incubate collaborative research and to engage a broader public in humanistic inquiry and discovery.

The plan for adaptive reuse preserved many of the historic elements of the original building, including its distinctive limestone façade, floor-to-ceiling wood paneling, staircases, and vintage light fixtures and fireplaces, while adding technologies to enable local and collaborative research. The building design attracts a larger public to the main floor gallery and the forum, an ideal space for conferences, seminars, and public events. There is a seamless flow between individual and collaborative research processes in the three dedicated floors above, which include: a spacious reading room; a collaborative studio for workshops, brainstorm sessions and project retreats; a state-of-the-art conference room; and, offices for eleven visiting fellows. The building meets 21st century academic needs, modern accessibility standards, and is LEED energy certified.

The Neubauer Collegium is named in honor of Joseph Neubauer (MBA '65) and Jeanette Lerman-Neubauer, whose landmark gift to the University is among the largest in support of the humanities and social sciences in the institution’s history. In its first four years, it will have supported 54 collaborative research projects led by more than 125 Faculty Fellows, with 38 Neubauer Collegium Visiting Fellows from 15 countries, and over 250 short-term visiting collaborators.