Job Well Done: Renovation of Cunningham Hall Earns Citywide Recognition



By Thaddeus Mast

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Photo of the exterior of the renovated Cunningham Hall

Illinois Institute of Technology’s 67-year-old residence hall, Cunningham Hall, has earned citywide accolades after being named a finalist of the 34th Chicago Commercial Real Estate Awards. Cunningham Hall was nominated for Redevelopment of the Year.

A design/build renovation led by Gilbane Building Company and designed by Illinois Tech alumnus and faculty member Dirk Denison (ARCH ’83, M.B.A. ’85), the project was extensive, including a full interior demolition, replacement of the exterior facade, electrical and plumbing improvements, interior finishes, and other updates to provide modern student living. Designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in 1955, the residence hall is nine stories high with 74,000 square feet of space. The refurbishment, which began in 2020, was finished in time for the fall 2021 semester.

The Cunningham Hall project came after the redevelopment of George J. Kacek Hall and an overall redesign of residential housing on Mies Campus. The remodel is based on the Kacek Hall renovation finished in 2020, which was also designed by Dirk Denison Architects. The building was completely stripped of all interior and exterior walls before renovation began. Work to refurbish Carman Hall is now underway.

Cunningham Hall now features six residential floors situated in a pod-style configuration, with student rooms pinwheeling around central study and social lounge areas that maximize variety, access to natural light, and views of campus, Lake Michigan, and the Chicago skyline. The upper two floors consist of three-bedroom apartments. A game room and fitness center are situated on the lower floor along with music rooms, laundry facilities, and meeting space.

The real estate awards, presented by the Greater Chicago Food Depository as a fundraiser event, brings together Chicago’s top architects, brokers, developers, property managers, interior contractors, and design professionals to celebrate the outstanding achievements in all facets of the industry. The event was held on Thursday, May 19, 2022, at Hilton Chicago.

The event, focused on celebrating diverse leaders and projects of community impact, raised more than $1.1 million for the food depository and its mission to end hunger in Chicago, the organization says. A full list of winners is available on the event’s website.

Photo: An exterior photo of the renovated Cunningham Hall in 2021