October 25, 2018

Mayor Emanuel Joins Illinois Tech in Opening New Kaplan Innovation Center

The first new academic building on Illinois Tech campus in 40 years, the Kaplan Institute will allow all students to problem-solve through project based work in a contemporary, highly-collaborative space

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

Mayor Rahm Emanuel joined Illinois Institute of Technology today to open the new Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship. The Kaplan Institute – the first new academic building on Illinois Tech’s campus in nearly 40 years – will foster collaboration among undergraduate students, faculty, alumni and business partners with the goal of developing the diverse technical talent needed in today’s business world.

“Technology and entrepreneurship continue to be one of Chicago’s fastest growing industry sectors – we as a City recognize the value of supporting innovation and talent through exceptional universities, like Illinois Tech," Mayor Emanuel said. “The Kaplan Institute is joining a long list of academic institutions, data centers and technology-based co-working spaces in South Side neighborhoods, helping to grow this area as a thriving center for technology, innovation and entrepreneurship.”

The new building breaks out of the classroom model to give students myriad ways to invent, create, and discover through hands-on learning. It contains state-of-the art prototyping and fabrication facilities, and serves as the home for the university’s renowned Institute of Design.

"Illinois Tech has been a great community anchor and a strong partner in the neighborhood," said Alderman Pat Dowell. "I am looking forward to seeing what the innovation center has in store for the university, our communities and for all the young men and women that will benefit from its resources."

The Kaplan Institute will be led by veteran entrepreneur and investor, Howard Tullman, who has been on the forefront of Chicago’s innovation boom, spending the last five years leading the city’s tech hub 1871 and decades before leading high-tech start-ups and helping major educational institutions reinvent themselves.

“The Kaplan Institute’s focus is to turn out highly qualified, instantly employable students for jobs that haven’t been invented yet, to use technologies that we are just now working on, and to address problems that we do not yet know are going to be problems,” said Tullman, university professor and executive director of the Kaplan Institute. “In this building, the creative and imaginative ideas of the school’s students and faculty will become meaningful innovations for our city, region and beyond.”

The Institute is established in large part from a gift of $11 million from Ed Kaplan – a 1965 Illinois Tech alumnus and longtime member of the University’s Board of Trustees – and his wife, Carol. Kaplan, a Chicagoan who studied mechanical engineering, co-founded Zebra Technologies, a global leader in bar code technology.

“Through the Kaplan Institute, Illinois Tech students, faculty and alumni will have all the resources they need to turn their concepts, ideas and problems into real solutions. Students now have the opportunity and ability to go beyond the norm of technical education and focus also on ingenuity and invention,” Kaplan said.

The building itself, designed by John Ronan Architects, is striking with a bold, glossy façade of bright white ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) hovering above a Mies van der Rohe-inspired grid. Rubbery to the touch, these ETFE foil cushions control solar energy entering the building through sophisticated pneumatics. The open, white interior spaces – a blank canvas that fosters the feeling of a single community of users – are punctuated with Post-It Note colors and sleek Steelcase furniture. At 70,000 square feet, the two-story light and airy space is designed around two courtyards, bringing in natural light and ventilation. Dry erase paint on the interior walls transforms them all into teaching surfaces and ideation centers.

For more information, go to iit.edu/kaplan-institute.


About Illinois Institute of Technology: Illinois Institute of Technology, also known as Illinois Tech, is a private, technology-focused research university, located in Chicago, offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineering, science, architecture, business, design, human sciences, applied technology, and law. One of 21 institutions that comprise the Association of Independent Technological Universities (AITU), Illinois Tech offers exceptional preparation for professions that require technological sophistication, an innovative mindset, and an entrepreneurial spirit. Visit iit.edu.