Mies van der Rohe-Designed Residential Building at Illinois Tech Begins Comprehensive Renovation

Alumnus Architect Dirk Denison, FAIA, Leads Design



By Howard J. Lee

The Bailey Hall residential building at Illinois Institute of Technology, designed by legendary architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, will undergo a major renovation, Illinois Institute of Technology announced today. The project partnership is composed of Corvias for development management, Dirk Denison Architects for design, and Gilbane Building Company for construction.

“This partnership solves for modern, sustainable housing, providing a vibrant new living experience for our first- and second-year students while revitalizing this historic and prominent part of our campus,” says Bruce Watts, vice president for facilities and public safety at Illinois Tech.

Dirk Denison of Dirk Denison Architects is the design lead among the project partners. He won the commission to restore the more than 74,000-square-foot building while introducing innovative sustainable features and creative ways to capture more usable space for residents. This partnership adds to more than 30 public-private partnerships Corvias has in the United States.

“It is truly rare to have the chance to renovate a Mies building,” says Denison, a longtime professor of architecture and an alumnus of Illinois Tech. “We asked ourselves, ‘How do we extend its legacy for today’s way of living?’”

Founder and CEO of Corvias John Picerne added, “By engaging Dirk Denison as architect, we arrived at a solution that thinks of the students’ needs first, enveloped in preservation and celebration of Mies design.”

The project will respect the building’s heritage with the installation of a new, high-performance façade, while adapting the original floor plan to the needs of students today. At ground level residents will enter into a transparent lobby whose interior will be kept spatially and materially the same as Mies’s original design. However, the redesign fully reconfigures the basement, taking advantage of unused space to insert an open staircase connecting the lobby with new gathering areas and shared resources—including a recreation room, laundry facilities, and a collaboration space—below.

Renovations will provide eight levels of accessible single and double rooms arranged in a “pod” style. Each floor is conceived as a social unit defined by large study and social areas. Rooms will pinwheel around these communal nodes, linked by corridors that extend all the way to the façade, offering additional daylight with city and lake views.

Denison describes the new Bailey Hall as an opportunity for students at Illinois Tech “to live in a legacy Mies building, while fostering the student interactions so important to the residential part of their education.”

After the end of World War II, enrollment at Illinois Tech increased and Bailey Hall was used to house staff, faculty, and married students. The now-vacant, nine-story apartment building completed in 1955 will be converted to house student residences by fall 2020 for 330 first- and second-year students.

“As post-war buildings age in the U.S., the preservation and reuse of modern buildings has become a pressing topic in architecture and urban planning,” says Denison. “Given Mies’s seminal role in developing Modernism as both a style and a design ethos, our objective with the renovation of Bailey Hall is to be exemplary for Modernist adaptive-reuse.”

Illinois Tech’s Mies Campus, located in Chicago’s historic Bronzeville neighborhood, has the largest collection of Mies architecture in the world.

Media Contacts:

Howard J. Lee

Kelly Douglas


Communications Manager
Email: hlee122@iit.edu
Phone: 312.567.3159
Mobile: 202.487.5722


Email: kelly.douglas@corvias.com
Mobile: 813.513.9650


In partnership with Corvias, Dirk Denison Architecture, and Gilbane Building Company, Illinois Institute of Technology will renovate the historic Mies van der Rohe-designed Bailey Hall to provide new living space for 330 first- and second-year students by Fall Semester of 2020.



About Illinois Institute of Technology

Illinois Institute of Technology, also known as Illinois Tech, is a private, technology-focused, research university, located in Chicago, offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineering, science, architecture, business, design, human sciences, applied technology, and law. One of 21 institutions that comprise the Association of Independent Technological Universities (AITU), Illinois Tech offers exceptional preparation for professions that require technological sophistication, an innovative mindset, and an entrepreneurial spirit.


Established in 1990, this Chicago-based firm has built its reputation of design excellence through a wide range of projects and scales, including multi-family, institutional, and commercial projects. The firm is well known in Chicago for the design and redesign of the Terzo Piano restaurant, Vista Tower, and the Pritzker Family Office, among other projects. Its body of award-winning residential work is the subject Dirk Denison: 10 Houses, a monograph published in 2018 by Actar, New York/Barcelona. Visit dirkdenisonarchitects.com.


As a privately-owned company headquartered in East Greenwich, Rhode Island, Corvias partners with higher education and government institutions nationwide to solve their most essential systemic problems and create long-term, sustainable value through our unique approach to partnership. Corvias pursues the kinds of partnerships that materially and sustainably improve the quality of life for the people who call our communities home, purposefully choosing to partner with organizations who share our values and whose mission is to serve as the foundational blocks, or pillars, of our nation. To learn more, please visit www.corvias.com.


Gilbane provides a full slate of construction and facilities-related services—from pre-construction planning and integrated consulting capabilities to comprehensive construction management, general contracting, design-build, and facility management services—for clients across various markets. Founded in 1873 and still a privately held, family-owned company, Gilbane has more than 45 office locations worldwide. For more information, visit www.gilbaneco.com.