Plans for former CTU (5757 S. University) remodeling as Becker-Friedman, 58th Street as pedestrian mall, and new connector building for B-F and vacated Nursery School.

Community Meeting of March 28, 2012, held in the Booth School.

Presented by Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, its Development-Preservation-Zoning Committee, and websites.
Writer Gary Ossewaarde

Collateral pages: Chicago Theological Seminary (backstory for this page), Woodlawn Avenue Corridor home, History and Preservation home, Planned Development 43-UC home, Development Hot Topics, University Master Plans, University Projects Updates, University and Community. hydepark.org homepage. Hyde Park Record (rest of the whole website including this page).

The meeting, convened by the University of Chicago and Alderman Leslie Hairston (5th) on March 28, 2012 at the Booth School, was convened to update the community and take input on plans for the repurposed building for Becker-Friedman Institute, its expansion via a new building to connect with the Nursery School and Human Development historic buildings (which will be remodeled), rerouting an alley, and plans for turning 58th Street into a pedestrian mall/ extension of the main campus. Cost is $101 million (including $28 million addition) in two phases, fundraising is under way. Attendees appeared supportive or passive toward the buildings but concerned to skeptical about the plans for the alley and 58th Street.

The meeting was intended to continue the conversations and new processes for handling the transition zone Woodlawn Corridor, university-owned component of which was recently expanded with new directives under the UC Planned Development 43 Amendment of 2012 and the related Woodlawn Avenue Plan. In keeping with those outcomes, an additional small committee was recruited at the meeting to continue review of the plans and suggest fill-out or modifications in light of concerns or suggestions from the public. Those interested in being involved can contact Ellen Sahli at esahli@uchicago.edu. Traffic studies (including parking) will continue and result in a Traffic Plan, in turn to be integrated into a campus-wide Traffic and Transportation Master Plan. The plans described today and notes on the meeting will be online at the following site:
http://news.uchicago.edu/behind-the-news/planned-development-43.
(You may have to poke around). Archive pictures of the stained glass and other features of the CTS are online at http://www.lib.uchicago.edu/e/webexhibits/5757windows.

Alderman Hairston. Hairston said she believes the project contributes to the university and the community. Neighbors want to know how the key elements fit with the character of this transition zone and to promote an ongoing good relationship. She noted that City Council has now approved the PD 43.

Ellen Sahli, UC Director of Civic Engagement, thanked everyone and said the Planned Development conversation had created a model for dialogue.

Steven Wiesenthal, University Vice President and Architect, stressed commitment to the legacy of the building, continued meetings over the next two years, a new academic purpose that respects the building and its past and addresses how it fits in its landscape in a new way.

The CTS organ (1983, baroque style) will be moved to Bond Chapel over the summer and fall. It will complement the romantic organ at Rockefeller.

The 82 stained-glass windows: 23 have gone to the new CTS in South Campus. About half (38 with non-religious themes) will remain in the building. The remainder (21) from Graham Taylor Hall, will go to a chapel at Advocate Christ Hospital's new campus in Oak Lawn-- these those with Biblical figures from the Taylor Hall. All the windows have been fully documented, online.

Ann Beha of Ann Beha Architects. They are committed to the highest standards in both historic preservation and in creativity. The building has many special purpose spaces, many codes, and is composed of several separate buildings on different levels that were never fully connected. She hopes the result will be elegant and in dialogue with the historic. The original dormitory on the east, later become offices, will be modern offices. A major challenge was maximizing efficiency for a specialized group of buildings, creating new interfaces where there had been only room-to-room connections.

The goals are- stewardship, creative adaptive reuse, complete sustainability (the old had no environmental controls), access, balance in a project that is within budget and purpose-appropriate. Exterior specifics include complete masonry cleaning and limestone repair, new slate roof and flashing, the windows (of several types). The windows require cleaning, restoration, moving in many case, reconstruction of the old casement windows (many of which were deformed and sashes removed to fit in window air units).

Main entry concept. The new glassed entry along the center of the 58th St. side (replacing much of the alley) will make the halves completely accessible to the public and each other and create a new presence to the street (until now missing). a 3-foot wall and terraces will replace the present 7-foot and open up the garden lawns to the street and create a new state-of-the-art partially underground classroom with light wells. Two exterior glass colonnades will provide complete passages including to new stairways and elevators (including on the north side). The cloister stays (with lots of repairs) and provides entry to underground offices-- the old light fixtures will stay. Hilton Chapel will stay as a flexible reading room with the old stone ceiling and window remaining. The old library will keep its wood and windows but have a new ceiling. Graham Taylor Hall keeps its historical floor, wood paneling, and lighting with new aspects for usefulness.

The alley: Lots of city standards will have to be followed. The new, sharp cut to Woodlawn, south of the Greek Revival house on Woodlawn, between 5730 and 5736 so not be too close to 58th St., would become city alley; the section to the south of that would become university property.

The Nursery School (2 buildings) have both playground and green space behind them. The reconstruction of each and the Human Development house to the north will be according to the restoration and preservation plan for each (in the Woodlawn Plan)-- basically the exterior, the interior will fit needs. (This is in a second phase--presumably would be for Becker-Friedman but not fully decided yet.) The plans are not easy and include removal of "additions" such as fences and fire escapes.) Keeping the old wood trim is especially important, as is maintaining the Woodlawn Avenue rhythm, making fully ADA and new connectivity nicely. They started with complex drawings of heights, fits, organization of the massing, and coursing belt lines. Connections will be on three levels to the new building. A new entry will be created for the complex between 5740 and 5750, with the ADA ramp using the porch of 5750. Plantings, grades, trees will fit with Woodlawn. There will be an internal garden. The new building will face the alley.

Steve Wiesenthal. 58th Street. A campus map was used reversing black and white to stress the open spaces between buildings. He stressed campus and campus/public reorganization to make things coherent and pedestrian-friendly. Examples are the main quad and the Midway crossings. 58th as a pedestrian mall would lead the campus and its look directly to Woodlawn and to the new park and its southwestward walks leading past Booth/Robie and Rockefeller to the new crossing to South Campus. This area would also become a destination. The Woodlawn Corridor would be a transition between campus and neighborhood and promote the "exchange of ideas," the University mission. It would also extend west through the campus and Ellis past the Medical campus and into Washington Park. University would continue one-way but would be "pavered" and slightly raised to campus walk height at the 58th intersection. Woodlawn Avenue (continuing two-way) would have no physical changes (except the Woodlawn Corridor/5700 block part would have new, conforming landscape).

Wiesenthal was interrupted with a question of who would now own 58th Street and what kind of control would be exercised over public access and maintenance. The university would negotiate with the city to own and maintain, with public access (including emergency vehicle access and handicap vehicle exceptions) exactly as with the campus "drives." Concern was expressed about practicalities, perception of an expansive university, and for maintaining the "public way." Complaints were made that it is hard, especially for persons with disabilities, to walk on the campus - you have to make special arrangements to be driven in- , exceptions needed for Oriental Institute loading dock, that drivers do use 58th to cut between Woodlawn and University, accommodating bikes safely, and loss of parking. They are searching for replacement of the 29 parking spaces to be lost. 70 new trees will be planted, the barrier wall (7') along CTS will go reconnecting the building to the street via terraces. Width of the walkway will be at least 16 feet and as much as 24. Woodlawn/58th will have stops, the alley onto Woodlawn would have a yield.

Traffic study. When the counts on 58th, Woodlawn, and the Alley were described, the study period was said to be exam week-- the counts will be done again. Doubt was expressed over only 60 cars daily in the alley and statement that 58th has the lowest vehicular count of any street in the area, especially now that it doesn't lead into the main quad anymore-- goes nowhere. (The alley now has 39 parking spaces). Concerns were made about Woodlawn Avenue-- it's very tight, made worse by the buses-- can the buses not be moved to University? (Reason for the buses is largely Booth, cited by attendees as a source of congestion with Robie, including taxis. The Alderman stressed the routes, stops et al are university-driven and do not come from CTA- and these were supposed to be just small buses and additional stops were added, res.) Cited by Wiesenthal as a mitigant is the end to Nursery School loading and elimination of parking on 58th Woodlawn to University. The alderman thought parking gain from end of the Nursery School would be a wash with the alley cut and the new second entry for Becker-Friedman on Woodlawn.

Parking loss was taken as very serious by the attendees, as was what to do with surges such as graduations. A question was asked about how much and well the university is planning for the future-- general faculty, staff, student growth as well as physical expansion- 2015, 2020, and so on. (The Becker-Friedman was asserted to not involve a person load increase and will be a lot less than Booth.) Wiesenthal said an RFP is out for a firm to do a whole-campus traffic and parking need study, and said the new Medical Center garage will help. He said in the meantime he will get what extrapolations are available. Also, there will be campus bus planning public meetings as well as more on the Traffic Management Plan. Cautions were expressed about either letting traffic/parking wag the dog or sweeping it under the rug.

Community benefits of the project. Completely updated structures with deferred maintenance done and accessibility, heighten the presence and impact of architecturally significant buildings, 15,000 square feet of additional green space including 70 trees; jobs. He noted that a meeting on MBWE and hiring was already set up.

Ms. Johnson, the UC person in charge of minority participation, described the candidacy process, including persons and firms in the seven closest zip codes. They are strengthening compliance language and site visits, she said in answer to aldermanic questions.

Timeline. Small group, similar to that for the Woodlawn Corridor.
Continue to evaluate strategies for traffic flow, parking replacement.
Design work.
Chilled water and steam pipes - will require closings of 58th street - June 2012.
Move the organ (summer and fall).
Stained glass moves in November.
Phase I work starts in November (pending funding, and parking on north side of 58th gone in September)- June 2014.
58th St. conversion starts June 2013.
Phase II work (pending funding and including new building and house renovation) starts December 2013.

Websites were given (see top). Attention was called to a model.

ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS:
Costs.
Phase I $73 million, Phase II $28 million. Fundraising is active. I will likely be counted in the new capital campaign.

Control of 58th Street - would the university consider alternatives such as an easement, Wiesenthal said yes, they will look at that.

Would a new structure be cheaper? Probably, but wouldn't fit the needs here.

McGiffert House future. Hard to figure out what to do with it other than the Bookstore and cafe, and scattered office in upper. Will not be torn down in the next ten years. It's parking lot could be part of the project parking solution-- certainly won't eliminate that.

Look carefully at all that goes into the Woodlawn Corridor, including landscaping and lighting and do it well.