Spertus Institute

Chicago, IL

The Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies has both a complex program and a demanding location. The program combines functional and metaphoric elements in equal measure, while the location involves inserting a Modern building into a 19th Century landmark district that includes such imposing structures as Adler & Sullivan's 1889 Auditorium Building and D.H.Burnham & Co's 1904 Railway Exchange Building. Like those earlier structures, Spertus embraces contemporary materials and technology, while conforming to norms of scale and organization to harmonize with the streetwall ensemble.

The 145,000 square–foot building functions as a vertical campus including museum galleries, a library and archives, a 400–seat multi–use auditorium, a degree–granting college, a family and children's center and administrative offices. The 10–story structure's elaborately faceted and folded façade is composed of 726 individual panes of glass, about two thirds of which are unique. The building's expression changes continually throughout the day due to shifts in time, perspective and weather. In this, it consciously evokes Jewish cultural and intellectual traditions that equate light with revelation and wisdom.

The facade also serves the functional purpose of admitting natural light to an in–fill building surrounded by older masonry structures. The upper floors, meanwhile, harvest additional illumination via a three–   story skylit atrium. Through a variety of measures, including high performance lighting, demand–based ventilation and heat recovery, the building achieves a 29 percent reduction in energy consumption. In 2009, Spertus became Chicago's first “green” museum after being awarded a LEED Silver certification by the US Green Building Council.

LEED–NC Silver Patron of the Year, 2007 – CAF Building Award, 2008 – AIA Chicago Chapter Divine Detail Award, 2008 – AIA Chicago Chapter Building of the Year, 2008 – Interior Design Magazine

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Lunch Talks @ CAF: Spertus Institute