Project Description

Client Objective:

Chicago Architecture Institute held a conceptual competition for a new urban building to house the college, library and galleries of the Spertus Institute of Jewish Learning and Leadership. The competition site was the Spertus Institute’s beautiful Michigan Avenue property.

Design Solution:

Each program piece – college, library and museum – had communal event requirements as well as more private, insular needs. The project developed around how these programs intertwined horizontally and vertically and how they each met the important Michigan Avenue façade. The entrance sequence under the belly of the building into an inner courtyard was a difficult mixture of high security, an open invitation to pedestrians, and a natural ventilation route.

Feature Highlight:

The east facing Michigan Avenue façade defines each program through different louver spacing and interior color. The inner courtyard expresses itself through the entrance as well as two large penetrations higher up in the building. We were trying to harness the wind off the lake with integrated turbines; further study would have shown both structural and cost issues.


We were named one of the finalists for this competition and presented the project at a Chicago Architecture Institute event.

lga’s team:

Lynn Gaffney, Eduardo Villagomez