As the academic year gets underway, construction crews are wrapping up a number of projects around campus that will enhance the pedestrian experience, making it safer and more pleasant to walk through campus.
Several interconnected projects have helped extend the look and feel of the main quadrangles along 58th Street across Ellis Ave., strengthening a central, east-west connection across campus.
Between Ellis Avenue and the entrance to the Mitchell Emergency Room to the west, 58th Street is begin transformed into a pathway and outdoor gathering space, with new pavers, planters, seating and landscaping. By next summer, this new pedestrian area will be connected to the Crerar Quadrangle. To make this possible, the University removed Ingleside Hall, a building that had been significantly altered when it was moved in the 1920s and had since outlived it function.
The 58th Street crossing of Ellis Avenue has also been remade, with a raised crosswalk, accentuated with pavers, which will help slow traffic and improve pedestrian safety.
To the east, a new open-air portal has been created through Edward H. Levi Hall, joining the main quadrangles to the science quadrangles and medical campus.
Cobb Gate improvements
To the north, a similar raised pedestrian crossing was created across 57th Street, creating a safer pedestrian path from the Regenstein Library to Cobb Gate.
Cobb Gate, the celebrated entrance to the main quad, also received a thorough cleaning this summer. Over the years, dirt had built up in the sheltered area under the arch, obscuring architectural details such as a turtle or starfish. A special cleaning treatment gently removed the imbedded dirt, without damaging the stone. This same treatment was used on the entrance of Ryerson this summer.
Further improvement to pedestrian safety throughout the Main Quad was realized upon the installation of automatic retractable bollards. Managing vehicular access while providing an open welcoming feel for pedestrians, and maintaining ADA route compliance were all key components of this project.
On Sept. 17, University staff, students and former residents joined together to commemorate Pierce Tower Residence Hall and celebrate the new residence hall to come, as Pierce demolition got underway. Earlier in the summer, the University got its first look at the plans for the new residence hall designed by Studio Gang Architects, an iconic structure that will continue the transformation of the student experience when it opens in autumn, 2016.
Construction began last summer on the William Eckhardt Research Center, a new research facility located on the corner of Ellis Avenue and 56th Street. This summer, building activity reached ground level. Pedestrians walking past can now view steel beams behind the fence line and will be able to watch the construction progress over the next two years.