Chicago college facility design celebrates manufacturing spaces

February 2, 2021

Architecture and design practice JGMA transforms a parking lot into the new Manufacturing, Technology, and Engineering Center (MTEC) at Daley College in Chicago, Illinois. Photo © Tom Rossiter[1]
Architecture and design practice JGMA transforms a parking lot into the new Manufacturing, Technology, and Engineering Center (MTEC) at Daley College in Chicago, Illinois.
Photo © Tom Rossiter

The new Manufacturing, Technology, and Engineering Center (MTEC) at Daley College is an addition to the Richard J. Daley[2] campus in Chicago, Illinois. MTEC sets the framework for a wider master plan. The project unifies the existing complex by creating a campus environment with engaging pathways and collaborative spaces throughout.

Rising from the transformed parking lot, the MTEC project speaks to issues larger than architecture; it seeks to revitalize a Chicago southwest neighborhood by creating a connective message that all are significant and welcome. Daley College tasked architecture and design practice JGMA[3] with removing the negative stereotypes that exist in the workforce when pertaining to manufacturing careers. Often suggesting these careers as devoid of dignity and reserved typically for minority populations. The project reverses the misconception through a design focused on celebrating state-of-the-art manufacturing spaces and proves careers in this industry require tech and skills as advanced as any other.

The design strategy utilizes building transparency to showcase machines, equipment, and products integral to the learning objectives of the colleges as well as provide a visual connection to the surrounding West Lawn community. The seamless fluidity to the building’s form was inspired by the constant and linear flow of the manufacturing process. The building spans the main thoroughfare with a strong industrial bridge that links the south and north campus of Daley College.

The new building celebrates the manufacturing industry through the expression of materials such as metal panels, glass, and exposed steel. Additionally, the underside of the elevated bridge is intentionally painted caution yellow, bringing the manufacturing expression to the exterior.

The transparency of the building provides a similar experience for the casual passerby, by providing a look into the advanced technical nature of manufacturing today.

The project challenges the latent stereotypes of a community college and alters the psychology of simply crossing the street to go to class. Through dynamic spatial organizations and site responsive architecture, MTEC provides students and staff a unique experience from the moment they walk into the building. The circulation spaces inside the building intentionally collide with seating areas, platforms, and alcoves to encourage students to congregate and participate in incidental learning between peers. There is a combination of exterior and interior terraces for users to enjoy in the warmer months. These green areas facilitate the students’ and faculty’s interaction providing connections with nature and lead to increased cognitive function and wellness, as well as creating a more unified campus.

As MTEC is now the front door to the campus, thorough analysis was conducted to the user experience with regards to security, wayfinding, and new learning opportunities. It was imperative that the new addition set-up a framework for further transformation of the existing building while still celebrating its current legacy. The unique exterior façade of the MTEC building is phase one in a master plan to completely rebrand and re-clad the existing facilities to create one new energized campus.

The new building seeks to not only be a catalyst for growth and change within City Colleges of Chicago, but also inspire the pursuit of manufacturing careers as a sophisticated and high-tech learning path.

Endnotes:
  1. [Image]: https://www.constructionspecifier.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Opener-4.jpg
  2. Richard J. Daley: https://www.ccc.edu/colleges/daley/pages/default.aspx
  3. JGMA: https://www.jgma.com/

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