As part of his focus on expanding Illinois’ innovation economy, Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the University of Illinois System's Discovery Partners Institute (DPI) unveiled the design for the new headquarters in The 78, a vibrant new innovation district along the Chicago River.
In addition, CVS Health announced today that it will be an anchor employer for DPI’s new partnership with technology services firm Interapt. Over the next five years, the Chicago/Skills apprenticeship program will provide as many as 2,500 individuals with tuition-free technology training and paid apprenticeship opportunities, with a focus on diverse apprentices. CVS Health has committed to hiring more than 200 successful participants over the next three years.
“The State of Illinois is building a world-class innovation hub in the heart of Chicago on the site of an old railroad yard that has sat vacant for decades,” Pritzker said. “Already DPI has helped launch our state’s COVID-testing system, is searching for COVID-19 and other viruses in our wastewater, and is training hundreds of students for careers in tech – and has a plan to spread the opportunities equitably. This futuristic design from OMA/Jacobs matches our ambitions.”
“This new building is a testament to the innovation and forward-thinking ideas Illinois aims to foster across the state,” said Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton. “The future headquarters will also show how much we can do to grow and progress when we invest in infrastructure that pushes us forward. That was the mission of Rebuild Illinois, and the funds coming from this plan continue to positively shape diverse communities throughout the state.”
Located on a one-acre site southwest of the Loop, the new DPI headquarters will provide more than 200,000 square feet of office, classroom, lab, and event space for DPI and its university and industry partners.
The State of Illinois is committing $500 million in capital funding to launch DPI and establish Illinois Innovation Network regional hubs at universities throughout the state. DPI is part of the University of Illinois System.
“Chicago has long been known as a hub for technology and innovation, and is home to incredible industry talent,” said Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. “With this new building, DPI will both build on this reputation and be able to draw from our robust talent pool. I look forward to seeing this project come to life and kick off the creation of our city’s new innovation district.”
“Already DPI is working with our many partners – in industry, government and across K-12 and higher education – to tackle real-world challenges and create businesses and jobs,” said Tim Killeen, president of the U of I System. “We are deeply grateful to Governor Pritzker, the State Legislature, Related Midwest and the Capital Development Board for their investment in our universities and in the collective power they hold to move Illinois forward and ensure it prospers.”
The project is expected to break ground in 2024, becoming the first building to begin construction in The 78 Innovation District. The facility will mark the beginning of a transformation that will connect the South Loop and Chinatown, filling a 62-acre void that has long separated them.
The eight-story building – a layered dome of glass and steel – is designed to create strong connections to the vibrant communities on all sides of the building, the adjacent riverfront, and the future phases of the larger Innovation District at The 78. The base will be populated with space that will be shared with the public — a café, auditorium, and multipurpose exhibition space/classrooms. The building’s main entry will be located at 15th Street and Wells-Wentworth, and a Richard Hunt sculpture will anchor the site’s landscape.
Architecture firms OMA, under the direction of partner Shohei Shigematsu, and Jacobs are leading the design. The Illinois Capital Development Board oversees design and construction. Related Midwest, the developer of The 78, donated the land for DPI and will oversee the continued buildout of the 62-acre property.
“Our architects describe our central atrium as ‘an active collision zone,’ and I love that,” said DPI Executive Director Bill Jackson. “We’re here to foster new relationships and bring more women and people of color into the tech industry. We can’t wait to have a building that will help us accelerate our growth and make new connections.”
“Today’s unveiling of Discovery Partners Institute’s new and improved headquarters design symbolizes the expansion of their mission to connect underrepresented Chicagoans with quality education and opportunities for employment across various industries,” said State Sen. Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago). “Further, this innovative partnership between DPI, Interapt and CVS Health will provide an economic boost that will reverberate throughout the surrounding neighborhoods.”
“The Chicago/Skills apprenticeship program is a much-needed investment for our communities,” said State Sen. Tony Munoz (D-Chicago). “Oftentimes people don’t have the means to gain the skills needed to find a job in the labor force. This apprenticeship program will give more people the training they need to be successful.”
“I am beyond excited to welcome Discovery Partners Institute to their new home in the 6th district,” said State Rep. Sonya Harper. “The new headquarters means a brighter future for Chicago and the state of Illinois. I look forward to partnering with them to bring growth, jobs, opportunities, and prosperity to our communities.”
“The Discovery Partners Institute is providing one of the most essential things we can give to our kids: opportunities,” said State Rep. Lakesia Collins. “In addition to the economic benefits this facility will bring to our community in jobs and commerce, the chance to learn at an elite level is invaluable. Building a better future always starts with getting kids a good education, so this campus is a big step forward.”
“Chicago has long been a city of innovators and big dreamers, and with the unveiling of the Discovery Partners Institute’s new campus right here in The 78, our proud history of lifting up the best and brightest continues,” said State Rep. Theresa Mah. “DPI’s new campus is a unique opportunity for the government, community, and the private sector to come together and lead the U.S. in not only today’s technological marvels but also the next generation of research and development. With thousands of tuition-free training and apprenticeship programs as well as hundreds of job opportunities supported through a design that stirs the imagination, the future is being built right here in Chicago. As the state representative for the adjacent 2nd District, I am beyond excited to be a part of this achievement.”
“DPI cultivates opportunities for research, learning, and innovation to diverse communities, requiring an architecture that adapts to continued growth of its programs. We wanted to provide a building that fosters interdisciplinary interaction and experimentation,” said Shohei Shigematsu, OMA Partner. “Programs are organized to maximize efficiency and potential to converge, and variegated layouts are configured around a central zone of collisions. A soft, transparent form and public ground floor offer an open invitation for the community to the building and its network.”
“Our interdisciplinary team believes strongly in a collaborative approach to design, and with a long history of working together, we know how to approach the unique and exciting challenges of the project — elevating the process and the outcomes,” says Kitts Christov, vice president at Jacobs. “OMA/Jacobs and our partners are truly honored to be leading this legacy project that will create enduring social and economic value to our communities, the Greater Chicago Metropolitan Area and the State of Illinois.”
“The ambition for the ground level-design is to make this public building a public amenity,” said Jim Underwood, executive director of the Illinois Capital Development Board. “It’s also designed for scientists, students, professors, entrepreneurs and industry to collaborate and build things together.”
“As an anchor of The 78 and a building with world-class architecture, the Discovery Partners Institute will uphold Chicago’s tradition of innovative design,” said Ann Thompson, executive vice president of architecture and design at Related Midwest and board chair of the Chicago Architecture Center. “Related Midwest is proud to collaborate on this important project, and we welcome the way it stands as a prototype for how equitable design transforms communities.”