Thomas M. Siebel Center for Computer Science
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois
“The Thomas M. Siebel Center for Computer Science is an integrated education and research facility for one of the nation's leading programs in computer science. While the street-facing sides of the building and landscape treatments are traditional, the courtyard sides feature transparent walls and a dynamic geometry, expressing an exciting and forward-thinking architecture.”
In response to the university’s master plan, the building has a traditional shape and connection to the street. It echoes the campus grid of tree-lined streets with a “front yard” setback, reinforcing the continuity of the surrounding environment. The street-facing façade is predominantly brick masonry with punched windows. Horizontal elements, such as watercourses and overhanging eaves, emphasize stability and evoke familiar building elements.
Reflecting the fast-paced culture of computer science, the design transforms the building’s inner courtyard facades, featuring glass curtain walls. The contrast between the outer and inner sides of the L-shaped building recalls a geode: an opaque, earth-textured exterior with a crystalline, refractive interior. The Siebel Center serves as a laboratory for exploring and evaluating contemporary computing environments; all classrooms are equipped with the latest technologies for communications.
Natural light and efficient circulation enliven the important public spaces facing the courtyard. Expansive views across the courtyard provide relief to researchers at their computer screens, while visual connections and reflections from across the court contribute complexity to the visual experience.
Bohlin Cywinski Jackson was the Design Architect for the Siebel Center and LZT Associates/Larson & Darby Group served as the Executive Architect.