New Student Center First of its Kind for Columbia College Chicago

Investment in students, innovative design to enhance South Loop economic engine

CHICAGO (May 2, 2017) – Students at Columbia College Chicago will have a student center for the first time in the 127-year history of the college, it was announced today.

“The new center will be a cornerstone of the student experience at Columbia,” said Dr. Kwang- Wu Kim, president of the college. “Our students have always sought out ways to collaborate and study in informal settings outside the classroom. Now, students will have a place designed especially for them—a welcoming space as distinctive as they are.”

After close to a year of planning with participation and input from students in Columbia’s “Dream Out Loud” sessions, the project is in the final stages of design and programming, with groundbreaking slated for October 2017.

As part of Columbia’s strategic vision for the future, the college is partnering with architectural and design firm Gensler to design and program the five-story, 114,000 square-foot facility, which will serve as a distinctive, central hub for the expansive urban campus that spans 20 buildings, serves more than 8,000 students and employs more than 2,000 full-time and part- time faculty and staff, contributing to the economy and vitality of the South Loop.

“As architects and designers, the Gensler team appreciates what Columbia wants to achieve with this new hub for student creativity and collaboration,” said Brian Vitale, principal and design director. “We want the new student center to welcome and inspire every student at Columbia. Interacting in a place of their own will benefit students who can expand their own thinking with new connections, thoughts and ideas.”

The new building is designed as a flexible space where students of all majors and disciplines will have access to integrated spaces for both structured and informal interaction and learning— from individual space, to dance studios, to analog and digital maker labs, to an 800-person event space.

Over the next few months, the Columbia team will host a series of community events to share information and answer questions about plans for the Student Center.

“The new student center will embrace Columbia’s diversity and our unique group of talented students—young people who represent the creative and cultural future of Chicago and beyond,” said Dr. Kim. “The new building is a distinctive, physical expression of the college as a cultural incubator, innovator and hub, set within an exciting, culturally influential city.”

The building is scheduled for completion in late 2018.

About Columbia College Chicago

Columbia College Chicago is a private, non-profit urban institution offering a distinctive curriculum that blends creative arts, media, liberal arts and business for 8,000 students in more than 100 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Dedicated to academic excellence and long-term career success, Columbia College Chicago creates a dynamic, challenging and collaborative space for students who experience the world through a creative lens. For more information, visit

About Gensler

Gensler is a global architecture, design and planning firm with 45 locations and more than 5,000 professionals networked across Asia, Europe, Australia, the Middle East and the Americas.

Formally founded in 1965, Gensler serves more than 3,500 active clients in virtually every industry. Gensler designers strive to make the places people live, work and play more inspiring, more resilient and more impactful.


Anne-Marie St. Germaine


Cara Birch