The Chicago Plan Commission was presented the final design for the Discovery Partners Institute’s new headquarters at the 78 as the development looks to get final site plan approval. Located on a one-acre parcel, the project will anchor the south end of the 78, fronting the future intersection of W.15th St and S. Wells St, also known as the Wells-Wentworth Connector. The project, addressed as 1519 S. Wells, is being overseen by the Illinois Capital Development Board since the project is being funded by the state.
With OMA as the design architect and Jacobs as the architect of record, the project will take the form of an eight-story building that will encompass approximately 213,000 square feet of space. Rising 136 feet, the building will house classrooms, meeting and event spaces, labs and offices for research, development and startups, as well as collaboration space interspersed throughout the building.
With programming driving the design, the building’s program was stacked into efficient volumes and then enclosed with a unified form. Derived from the multidirectionality of the site, the rounded forms seek to not privilege any direction, creating a democratic form that orients itself to all of its surroundings.
Each floor inside the building is split into three neighborhoods. The northern neighborhood will be the innovation neighborhood, home to computational labs and offices. At the south end, the experimental neighborhood will include experimental labs and workstations. The center of the building is home to the instructional neighborhood, which hosts classrooms as well as the building core to the east side.
The center of the building will be home to an atrium that is positioned as an active collision zone within a network of flexible collaboration zones interspersed throughout the building. Floating meeting rooms and connecting stairs will enliven the atrium with opportunities for users to interact and collaborate. The larger network of circulation and interaction zones includes perimeter-facing circulation that includes stairs with smaller flexible workspaces for those who want quieter spaces.
The ground floor has been designed to be very open and public, with generous sidewalks and entry plazas for accessing the building. On the interior, a cafe will be open to the public, with multipurpose rooms available for programming and potential community meetings. A 100-person auditorium and the open floor plan will also allow for larger events, including potential career fairs.
For sustainability, the building will meet LEED Gold while also implementing bird protection, construction waste diversion, and workforce development. There will be no on-site parking for cars, but bike parking will be included with showers and changing rooms.
With this courtesy presentation taken care, the development is making its way to a final site plan approval before construction can begin. As the first building set to begin construction in 2024, the rest of The 78 will follow at an undetermined timeline under the control of Related Midwest.