Rafael Viñoly Architects’ design for University of Chicago’s new Graduate School of Business makes the quad a public room that identifies with the campus and unifies the functions of the school. By enclosing the quad in a greenhouse, the Winter Garden, the space can be used year-round and function as the main distribution hall of the building.
The Winter Garden is a steel structure with a skylight roof and glazed enclosure that maximizes daylight in the central space. The vertical thrust of the central space follows the proportions of the lancet windows of the adjacent Gothic-style Rockefeller Chapel. The roof is a quadripartite, pointed vault, built with tubular steel members that follow the logic of the gothic method of transferring forces through thin structural members. The funneled shapes at the top of the vaults bring rainwater into the center of the four columns of the structure, which drain into a reservoir. These surfaces concentrate snow load on the column axis rather than in the span. The concave surface of the ceiling accelerates the convection of hot air towards the top of the space where it exhausts, allowing the room to be naturally ventilated year-round.
The program is organized horizontally in order to minimize the vertical movement of students and visitors. Vertical circulation encourages the use of open stairs connecting the three main levels (the student center, the teaching facilities immediately below, and the administration and recruiting areas on floor above). Three circulation cores, surrounding the Winter Garden, connect all the levels for the students, faculty and public.
The functions of the Student Center are located on the ground floor. The multi-use reception room opens directly to the central function area in the Winter Garden which fully integrates their uses. Faculty offices, classrooms and group study rooms offer high quality environments with natural daylight and views into the Winter Garden and the surrounding community.