Past meets future

A former seminary building gets modernized while maintaining its original charm.

The new home of the Department of Economics and the Becker Friedman Institute for Research in Economics opens in 2014. The former Chicago Theological Seminary at 5757 South University Avenue, built in three stages between 1923 and 1927, is being renovated to house faculty, student, and program offices, and research and instruction facilities. The work includes excavation for an underground classroom and relocating a dividing alley to make room for a new main entrance on the building's south side.

To update the building's infrastructure, meet safety and accessibility codes, and plan for modern academic needs, the University worked with architect Ann Beha, who specializes in repurposing ecclesiastical sites, to retain the structure's historic character. Preserved hallway arches, paneling, and large windows, including some of the original stained glass, will evoke the building's past while making the center—on track for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design silver certification—sustainable for future generations of scholars.