|Illinois Institute of Technology
Four-year, private, urban
McCormick Tribune Campus Center
110,000 sq. ft.
9 (full-time); 2 (part-time)
In 1997, Illinois Institute of Technology held an international design competition for a new college union. Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas submitted a design identifying the build location of the new union in the center of campus; he won with his unique vision to link the east and west sides of the university. The McCormick Tribune Campus Center (MTCC) was built in 2003.
Koolhaas incorporated the previously existing Chicago Transit Authority’s green line route within the building. The train passes directly over the building in a 530-foot sound-dampening tube that also serves as part of the roof.
“The rest of the facility follows suit in its ability to stand out,” said Kelly Schaefer, director of campus and conference centers. “The steel and glass construction gives a nod to the ‘less-is-more-architect’ Mies van der Rohe, but branches out significantly with orange Panelite windows, brushed aluminum flooring, and the off-grid pathways through the building that connect the sides of campus.”
Both the unusual design and association with notorious architects bring people from all over the world to tour both the MTCC and Illinois Institute of Technology campus.
“Because the MTCC is a world-famous building, we won’t go more than a few days without people taking pictures and touring the space,” Schaefer said. “I can’t be sure, but I don’t consider this normal for a campus center.”
Prior to the MTCC, there was a campus bar and recreation area in the lower level of Hermann Hall Conference Center, called The Bog, which was closed when the new building opened.
“Students missed The Bog, and four campus student leaders petitioned the university to re-open it,” Schaefer said. “With a $1 million renovation in 2007, The Bog was brought back up for operations.”
A large amount of the workforce in the MTCC comes from students. Although most are employed by the campus and conference center, some work for campus life, catering, bookstore, and in other capacities in the building.
For those students who are not working, there are numerous spots for studying and socializing in the Campus Center. Small meeting rooms remain open for student use when not reserved for meetings. The Black and White Lounge is a space with comfy furniture that contrasts the building’s design.
The MTCC is a popular place to eat because of its central location; students may be found in the Global Grounds Coffee Café, Center Court, or Pritzker Club Restaurant.
Students also have the option of playing an oversize version of chess or checkers on the outside lawn.
Numerous activities happen at the MTCC. 33rd Street Productions, a student-run theatre group in collaboration with Shimer College and VanderCook College of Music, puts on productions such as “Sweeny Todd” and improv shows. Other events have included Office Pig Skin Friday for Superbowl, Day of Silence with a rainbow cake, and Pi Day 3.14 “for our nerds.” Because of the 37 percent international student population, there are many cultural nights throughout the academic year.