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University Gardens, Hyde Park


University Gardens resulted from the “slum clearance” of Chicago’s once-prosperous Hyde Park neighborhood. Developed by William Zeckendorf, it was one of the largest urban renewal programs in the United States.

The project consists of two 10-story apartment slabs on either side of a landscaped island; the twin buildings belong to the family of architectural concrete residential towers pioneered by Pei in the 1950s and early ’60s. Beyond the apartment buildings, in a strategy to integrate with the existing urban fabric, the project also includes a series of courtyard-based two- and three-story brick townhouses. (Pei would develop the same integrative strategy several years later at Society Hill in Philadelphia).

Working with Araldo Cossutta, a design architect on staff who later became Pei’s partner, Pei planned and designed the Hyde Park project in association with the Chicago-based architect Harry Weese, who originally mapped out the urban renewal site.

University Gardens was awarded the Urban Renewal Authority’s Honor Award for Urban Renewal Design in 1964.


Bird’s-eye view to northwest / GoogleMaps (edited)

Design Team: I.M. Pei, Design Principal; Araldo Cossutta, Design Architect; Harry Weese Associates
Webb & Knapp Real Estate Development Corp.