No. 453 . 18 November 2009 
ArchitectureWeek

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Relic Rock, by Chicago architect David Hovey, Jr., AIA, is a prefabricated modular demonstration home in Scottsdale, Arizona. Photo: Bill Timmerman

Chicago AIA Awards

by ArchitectureWeek

A utility plant stands in glass at the edge of the University of Chicago campus, the geometric tangle of its technical systems revealed inside the radiused crystalline form.

The South Campus Chiller Plant by Murphy/ Jahn was recognized by the Chicago chapter of the American Institute of Architects in its 2009 design awards. The AIA Chicago honorees range from a tiny cupcake shop in Chicago to a weathered-steel house in Arizona and a glassy office tower in Germany.

Beautiful Utility

Murphy/ Jahn designed the South Campus Chiller Plant as a functional and ultimately celebratory container for equipment that chills water and produces steam for cooling and heating university and hospital buildings. Located on an open site on the southeastern fringe of campus, the building stands as a self-contained figure in the landscape.

The major equipment rooms sport ultra-clear floor-to-floor glass on steel bar mullions, exposing the building's industrial contents: equipment, piping, valves, columns, girders, beams, floor decks. Elsewhere on the building, continuous sheets of profiled, perforated stainless steel panels are held four inches (ten centimeters) out from precast concrete planks, facilitating air intake and exhaust.

The awards jury lauded the architects' honest approach, calling the utility building "beautifully and simply done."   >>>

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