Sunday, September 15, 2019
Illinois Tech (aka IIT)
Illinois Tech—or it is IIT?—is very proud of their Mies van der Rohe buildings. And rightly so. But they're also very proud of their new Kaplan Institute, particularly because it is light and not dark, mostly white, with splashes of color, such as these cushions in its amphitheater-like space, designed to look like giant Post-It note pads.
Designed by IIT—or is it Illinois Tech?—alumnus John Ronan, it opened in October and is the first new building on campus in 40 years. It's called the "Kaplan Institute" because 1965 alumnus Ed Kaplan kicked in $11 million for it.
I was on campus Tuesday researching an unrelated story. But the Illinois Tech—or is it IIT?—folks were so proud of the new place they had to show me around, including the second floor, where they have fancy glass that ... I'm not sure what it does ... has dots that expand on sunny days to keep the sun from heating up the place too much, and contract on cool, cloudy days to let the heat and light in. Or some such thing. Compressed air is involved.
There's a lot more to it; study rooms and 3-d printer labs, a big area to construct prototypes. IIT—or it is Illinois Tech?—is pushing the snazzier latter name over the former. That's a good thing—Illinois Institute of Technology is a mouthful, and IIT can too easily be confused with UIC. But they seem to still have a foot on the dock and a foot on the pier, with lots of signs and banners reading IIT, and others reading Illinois Tech. I suppose it can be both, the way Northwestern and NU are the same place.
Embarrassingly, Eric Zorn covered this topic, far more thoroughly, four years ago.