The Chicago Theological Seminary (CTS) enjoys a proud legacy of progressive education and preparation for future religious leaders in a multitude of ministries. The 150-year-old institution is located on the campus of The University of Chicago and is affiliated with the United Church of Christ.
With its proud past, CTS is also poised to continue its mission well into the 21st century and beyond. Helping to ensure that it does is a new 80,000 sq. ft. CTS building. It was designed by Chicago’s Nagle Hartray Architecture. Incorporated into the design of the building was 11,000 sq. ft. of Dri-Design pressure-equalized rainscreen wall panels. Formed from .080” aluminum with Harvest Gold and Cashmere Pearl paint finishes, the panels were installed in both horizontal and vertical arrangement.
The Nagle Hartray design team, led by Dirk Danker, design partner, emphasized asymmetry with balance as a key formal strategy in developing the massing of the modern structure. Other design goals included imparting an informality of character on the building, encouraging engagement with both the campus and immediate neighborhood through the use of transparency and multiple entries on both campus and neighborhood sides of the building and finally, creating a unique, distinctive architectural personality.
According to project architect Scott Cryer, “You will find many aspects of the building to be defined by asymmetry complemented with balance. We found that asymmetrical massing provided an interesting contrast not only to typical religious iconographic architecture but also to large portions of the architecture found on the neighboring campus. The building’s mass consists of three key elements: a vertical, steel-frame ‘tower’ form at the northeast corner, the horizontal metal panel ‘bar’ form that wraps the west side on the second and third floors, and the cylindrical metal and glass drum on the top floor.”
The Dri-Design panels clad both the horizontal “bar” element and the cylindrical drum and were installed in a staggered bond pattern in both locations. “The coursing of the metal panels and the brick is a designed random pattern,” Cryer said. “Additionally, the mullion pattern of the curtainwalls and the spacing of the punched openings are all similarly random. This designed randomness at a more detailed scale helps to support the asymmetry and balance which is occurring at a more global scale, while also creating a sense of quirkiness, imparting the distinctive personality of the institution within. These concepts helped us to define the key descriptive elements at a variety of scales throughout the project.”
Installation of the Dri-Design panels was done by Tuschall Engineering, Burr Ridge, IL. Tuschall was involved with the project through schematic design, budgeting and installation as the successful bidder, according to Brendan Nolan, project manager. “The project started as a natural metals job but we worked with the design team to stay within budget by using a painted finish to deliver the desired look,” Nolan said. “The greatest challenge was the upper cylinder which required segmented panels to achieve the radius design.”
The panels on the upper level were installed vertically. The lower level, horizontally installed panels utilize three different panel heights and integrate with masonry. “Dri-Design offers a high value, flexible design system that is quick and easy to install,” said Nolan.
LEED Silver certification is being sought for the building which includes numerous sustainable strategies—the most visible sustainable feature being the 4,000 square foot vegetative roof. Other green aspects include high recycled content of materials, high-efficiency HVAC and water-efficient landscaping.