Written by Gregg Brekke
All systems are "go" for the opening of UCC-related Chicago Theological Seminary's new 80,000-square-foot building, a LEED-certified facility to be ushered in with a Dedication Weekend and Scholarship Concert celebration Oct. 20-23, 2011.
"The move to the new seminary building will be made the first week in January, with classes beginning later that month," said the Rev. Alice Hunt, CTS president.
Meeting high "green" standards, the $30 million building will feature four floors with a footprint of approximately 17,400 square feet and house academic and administrative offices, classrooms, a food-service area and two chapels. The facility is designed to achieve LEED Silver Certification.
The first two floors comprise faculty and staff offices and classrooms. The first floor houses a small chapel seating 30, and the second floor includes a meditation space. The Learning Commons and Student Commons is on the third floor.
Spaces for large, public assemblies are available on the fourth floor and include a main worship space, dining room and kitchen.
The guiding principles of the building's design are to:
- Express CTS as a religious institution rooted in its past and forward-thinking in mission
- Assimilate iconic elements of CTS' past within the framework of the new
- Claim an independent presence while being a good neighbor on the Midway
- Express a sense of rootedness, yet also a light and transparent character that is welcoming and engaging with its community
The new structure sports a concrete core with brick and metal siding facings. Generally rectangular in shape, the building features a series of circles that cut across each floor.
Five thousand square feet of green roof space provides visual interest; reduces the building's heat island effect and storm water runoff; and provides a vegetated outdoor landscape for occupants.
Donald Clark, chairperson of the CTS Board of Trustees and UCC nationwide special counsel, recently made a gift of $1 million for the project.
"This difficult and important decision benefited from a process of community-wide education, deliberation and collaboration that reflected CTS at its best," said Clark. "We not only made an important decision for the institution, we also learned how best to process future challenges facing the community."
Construction is a partnership between the University of Chicago and Chicago Theological Seminary. In May 2008, University of Chicago Board of Trustees Executive Committee authorized the purchase of the main CTS building and a dormitory, as well as an adjacent parking lot. The university also agreed to construct the seminary building.
The current main building originally was designed for housing and office space, and was not intended to hold classrooms. Renovation estimates for the current main building exceeded $25 million.
The university paid CTS $11 million for the main CTS building and the dormitory at the close of the deal June 30. The transaction gives CTS students access to the university student housing – up to 30 units in a combination of single and family units near the location of the new building.
Hunt said she sees the move as indicative of the bright future of the seminary.
"This move continues CTS' long legacy of providing courageous and cutting-edge religious leadership," she said. "As we honor our traditions, we grieve in the leaving of this beautiful and spirit-filled building, and we celebrate in the continual creation of new life."
Please visit <ctschicago.edu/newbuilding> for more information about the new building and to register for the Dedication Weekend and Scholarship Concert.