The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on Thursday, September 5 held a Topping Out ceremony of its Siebel Center for Design, marking a significant milestone in the construction of the Center, which will foster a collaborative approach to problem solving. We were honored to participate in this event alongside many of the students, faculty, and staff who will soon call this new facility home, as well as the contractors and skilled craftsmen who are bringing this exciting design to life.
Our new Siebel Center for Design is one of the first ground-up, cross-disciplinary design schools in the United States. The building is designed to support a collaborative approach to problem solving — one that combines design thinking, experimentation, prototyping, and making in an open, flexible, and collaborative cross-disciplinary environment — and is one of many within the makerspace typology our firm is currently designing.
The 60,000 square-foot building uniquely supports the Center’s design thinking academic ideals by maximizing opportunities for interaction throughout its flexible collaboration studios, open gathering and meeting areas, and makerspaces that will facilitate high-resolution prototyping and digital production. The design serves to break down the barriers encountered in more traditional learning environments, thereby fostering an atmosphere that supports interdisciplinary experience-based learning. The design also celebrates the University’s role as a leader in universal accessibility, connecting all levels of the Center by providing a central sloped walkway as the main circulation route within a sky-lit, two-story opening in the building’s heart.
“This is an exciting day for our team and an important milestone toward the realization of the Center. Once complete, it will provide a landmark addition to campus through both its transformative design and establishing a university-wide hub for interdisciplinary research, design, and discovery,” said Project Manager Allen Kachel, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, WELL AP.
The Siebel Center for Design will be an important contributor to the University’s Climate Action Plan, featuring a high performance building envelope and a rooftop photo-voltaic array. The building will be conditioned, in part, by an in-slab air distribution system, providing an efficient, low energy design.
The ceremonial ‘final beam’ was lifted into place Thursday is but one structural beam in the 410 tons of steel, 6,900,000 pounds of concrete, and 1,140,000 pounds of structural CMU walls that will go into the Center’s construction.