Final Steel Beam Installed at Illinois Tech’s Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship

Illinois Institute of Technology donors, faculty, staff, students, and alumni were joined September 15 by key local officials including Mayor Rahm Emanuel for the Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship beam-signing ceremony. The event celebrated the installation of the final steel beam for the Kaplan Institute, which is currently under construction. The milestone puts the sustainable 70,000-square-foot innovation center one step closer to its 2018 completion date.

“An Illinois Tech education means collaborating across academic boundaries to solve real-world problems,” said Illinois Institute of Technology President Alan W. Cramb. “The Kaplan Institute will embody that spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship, acting as a hub for our students as they work in teams to invent new products and solutions for the people of Chicago and the world.”

Located in the heart of Illinois Tech’s campus in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood, the Kaplan Institute will nurture the advancement of creative ideas, foster interdisciplinary and external collaboration, and create a culture that enables innovation and tech entrepreneurship to flourish. It will serve as a one-of-a-kind hub for invention at Illinois Tech, preparing students for the development of meaningful technological innovations that solve complex problems.

“The new innovation center represents an investment in both the education offered at IIT and the future of the city of Chicago,” Mayor Emanuel said. “It will help unlock the potential of thousands of students while providing Chicago businesses with a pipeline of new products, processes and talented graduates to hire.”

All undergraduates from every major will be required to take two courses in the Kaplan Institute through the university’s signature Interprofessional Projects (IPRO) Program. Plans are underway to include new components of the program such as design and consulting studios for undergraduate students in all relevant areas of science, applied technology, architecture, engineering, business and entrepreneurship, humanities and social sciences, and law. The building will provide flexibly adaptable teaching space for Illinois Tech’s project-based, undergraduate interdisciplinary courses and be the campus home of the university’s internationally acclaimed Institute of Design.

The technologically advanced building is also innovative in its own right, especially in its approach to sustainability. The second floor of the building, which cantilevers over the ground floor to provide sun shading, is enclosed in a dynamic façade of ETFE (ethylene tetrafluoroethylene) foil cushions, the first use of its kind in Chicago. The dynamic ETFE façade can vary the amount of solar energy entering the building through sophisticated pneumatics, and at one percent the weight of glass gives the building a light, cloud-like appearance.

The Kaplan Institute, designed by well-known architect John Ronan, broke ground in August 2016, and was fully funded through philanthropic donations. It is the first academic building to be added to the Illinois Tech Mies Campus since the Stuart Building in 1971.

Click here to learn more about the Kaplan Institute.

Click here to view photo renderings of the Kaplan Institute.

Click here to view a flyover video rendering of the Kaplan Institute.