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Soka Gakkai International, Chicago Culture Center / Chicago, Illinois

The Chicago Culture Center is a Buddhist Temple and midwest headquarters for Soka Gakkai International, the largest religious organization in Japan. The $3.6 million Culture Center includes 600, 150, and 50-seat auditoriums, exhibition gallery, executive offices, training rooms, and a bookstore. Siting of the center continues the Chicago tradition of major buildings terminating streets. The main lobby is centered on the axis of 14th Place at Wabash Avenue. Building forms are drawn from Chicago architectural traditions. Major materials and building systems were researched and value engineered to provide a durable and cost-effective solution, while meeting the client’s stringent functional criteria. The compact dense massing of the building was determined to provide a cost-effective approach early in the design process. The design was broken down into primary shapes that reflected the internal functional arrangement and yielded an appealing scale to an otherwise large building.

“Our religious organization selected the firm of Harding Partners as architects for our new Chicago Culture Center based on their experience in similar projects and interest in creating attractive and usable worship and assembly spaces. Paul Harding remained committed and involved through all phases of the project, exercising great care so that we would be fully satisfied with the building. The finished building has become the keystone of the redeveloped Wabash corridor, uniting Dearborn Park and Central Station. We are very happy with the building and with the role of Harding Partners in its realization.”
— Guy C. McClosky, Vice President Soka Gakkai International – USA

American Institute of Architects and the Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art and Architecture, National Religious Architecture Award 2000
American Institute of Architects, Northeast Illinois, Merit in Architecture Award 1999
Association of Licensed Architects, Design Excellence Award 2000
Illinois Indiana Masonry Council, Gold Medal Award 1995
Society of American Registered Architects, Special Recognition Award 2003

Project Location

Location Map

    Key Information

  • 600-seat auditorium
  • 150-seat auditorium
  • 50-seat auditorium
  • Foyer/gathering space
  • Executive offices
  • Exhibition gallery
  • Training rooms
  • Bookstore