The University of Chicago will expand its presence in Paris through the construction of a new building designed by Studio Gang, growing opportunities for education, research and scholarly engagement across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Expected to open in 2022, the project will double UChicago’s space in Paris and replace the University’s existing Center, which has experienced tremendous growth in interest and programming since opening in 2003. The Center in Paris was UChicago’s first global facility, creating a model for engagement around the world that now includes the University centers in Delhi, Beijing and, most recently, Hong Kong, where The Hong Kong Jockey Club University of Chicago Academic Complex The University of Chicago Francis and Rose Yuen Campus in Hong Kong opened in November.
The selection of Studio Gang, a Chicago-based design practice led by renowned architect Jeanne Gang, Chev. L.H., with offices in New York, San Francisco and Paris, followed a competitive process led by the SEMAPA, the government agency in charge of the development of Paris Rive Gauche, the neighborhood in which both the current and future Center reside. Studio Gang partnered with PARC Architectes, a Parisian architectural firm, on the new Center. The expansion project is a collaboration between SEMAPA, real estate developer Icade, and the University and will be located on the Rue des Grands Moulins and Avenue de France in an area that has become an international hub of research and higher education.
"The expansion of the Center in Paris is a testament to its success as an essential intellectual destination for faculty, students and alumni. This new project is a critical step in the University’s support of education and research around the globe. Jeanne Gang and her colleagues are a superb choice to lead the design of the Center, connecting it to the University, Paris and the broader region," said President Robert J. Zimmer.
The Center in Paris hosts activities across the University, serving as home to UChicago’s largest undergraduate study abroad program, a hub for research and scholarly collaborations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and a focal point for a wide variety of alumni activities. The new project will grow the space for these activities through such additions as a theater, laboratory and café, while further connecting UChicago to one of Europe’s leading centers of culture, education and innovation.
"The Center in Paris has enhanced the intellectual life of the University of Chicago at every level," said John W. Boyer, dean of the College. "The Center hosts more than 250 undergraduates each year who study with leading Chicago faculty in one of 14 interdisciplinary programs. The Center also supports the advanced studies of doctoral students and faculty from across the University, who make use of the rich resources of Paris and engage with scholars from across Europe, the Middle East and Africa in undertaking major research projects."
The project is comprised of two interlinking parts: the new UChicago Center in Paris and a mixed-use development not owned or operated by the University. The two parts will be housed in separate buildings connected through shared outdoor space.
The Center in Paris Project
New, biodiverse green spaces, public art, and the visual and material dialogue between the buildings will invite mixing between the University and greater communities while weaving together the site and its context both physically and intellectually.
"We are very excited to work in the great city of Paris and to collaborate with the prestigious University of Chicago on the Paris Center," said Jeanne Gang. "Building upon the mission of the Center as a place of dialogue and exchange, our project is designed to encourage meaningful connections between the faculty, students and Parisians and to create a new kind of vitality in this growing neighborhood in the 13th arrondissement. I look forward to working with Icade, PARC Architectes and the city of Paris to realize this new addition to the life of the city."
UChicago and Studio Gang have collaborated before. The firm designed the award-winning Campus North Residential Commons and Frank and Laura Baker Dining Commons, which opened in 2016. Throughout its history, UChicago has commissioned leading architects for projects as part of a commitment to architecture that advances inquiry and practice, enhances student life and cultivates a scholarly community that has an impact beyond its physical boundaries.
The site of the Center’s expansion is part of one of Europe’s leading civic projects, which focuses on developing former industrial sections of Paris’s Left Bank. The larger civic project is anchored by the French National Library and includes leading higher education institutions such as Paris Diderot University, the National Institute for Oriental Languages and Civilizations, IAE Paris - Sorbonne Business School, laboratories that are part of the National Center for Scientific research, and Station F, the world’s largest incubator and start-up campus.
"The city of Paris is very proud of the establishment of the University of Chicago Center in the heart of the city, close to the French National Library. The 13th arrondissement is a key district for higher education in Paris and the University of Chicago’s increased presence strengthens our strategy of maintaining universities and student facilities inside Paris. The building imagined by Jeanne Gang is a symbol of our urban policy that brings together ecological excellence, contemporary architecture and a social and functional mix," said Jean-Louis Missika, deputy mayor of Paris.
The expansion project will support UChicago’s distinct approach to study abroad. Unlike traditional programs at many universities, which focus on language instruction and cultural enrichment, UChicago undergraduate programs in Paris and around the world represent a deeper and broader model for study abroad-one that combines cultural immersion and exploration in a variety of fields, ranging from history to neurobiology to mathematics.
The Center in Paris project will support faculty research and collaborations across the region, including housing dedicated workspaces for research teams and visiting scholars. It will serve as an administrative center for programs and events, including supporting alumni and admissions activities, and serving as a link to distinguished colleges, universities and organizations in the region.
This project was recommended by a faculty committee that brought together scholars from a range of disciplines and was chaired by Robert Morrissey, the Benjamin Franklin Professor of French Literature and former academic director for the Center in Paris.
The current Center in Paris, which is located two blocks from the expansion project site, will close after the new building is completed.
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