University Club of Chicago

Chicago, Illinois

The University Club of Chicago occupies an historic 1908 skyscraper by Holabird and Roche, with interiors and stained glass by Frederick Bartlett. In 1999, the club selected VHA for master planning and architectural services. Over the subsequent fifteen years, we completed numerous projects to accommodate the evolving needs of the club's membership. Projects included interior renovations to numerous spaces within the club’s vintage skyscraper, exterior work such as window and facade repairs, and complex expansions into neighboring buildings. Throughout these varied projects, VHA’s work maintained and enhanced the club’s historic architecture while providing improved life safety and amenities for its members.

Legacy Squash and Fitness Facility

When a new residential high rise was planned for a site adjacent to this historic club, a partnership opportunity led to the creation of a new fitness facility within the high rise.

Linked to the historic club building by a new glass bridge, VHA directed the interior design of a new squash facility within the residential high rise next door.

The project features five new squash courts, including one doubles size court.

Emphasizing the exposed concrete and glass aesthetic of the new skyscraper, open exercise and lounge spaces are arranged near the curtain wall and enjoy panoramic views of Lake Michigan and Millennium Park.

Men's Locker Room

The relocation of squash courts to the neighboring skyscraper freed up space within the historic building for improved member amenities. The eleventh floor of original squash courts was transformed into a new Men's lounge and locker area.

The squash court volume was utilized to create an airy, double height lounge space.  New toilets and showers are also included.

The court's original viewing area above was transformed into a new pro shop and lounge, linked to the new squash facilities in the high rise next door.

Cathedral Hall

The club's signature space, Cathedral Hall, was renovated in 2004. Non-original additions were removed from the room, the existing stone walls were cleaned, lighting was improved and new carpet and furnishings were specified.

Front Grill Dining Room

A former billiard room was transformed into a casual dining venue, providing an alternative to the more formal setting of Cathedral Hall. The original groin vaulted ceiling was maintained, with restored finishes and a new decorative paint scheme.  Lighting and A/V systems were upgraded, a new kitchen was designed, and bathrooms were renovated.


General Contractor: Bulley & Andrews

Structural Engineer: KGH; Johnson Engineering Systems

M/E/P Engineer: WMA; Ketchmark & Associates

Lighting: Schuler Shook

Photographer: Eric Hausman; Hedrich-Blessing