Chicago’s Columbia College is ready to start moving dirt in preparation for its next ground-up building in the South Loop. Billed as the school’s first dedicated student center since its founding in 1890, the upcoming facility was granted a construction permit for its foundation on Friday.

Though Columbia officials hosted a ceremonial groundbreaking event in November, the latest permit is the first indication that work is ready to begin in earnest. The 114,000-square-foot, Gensler-designed facility replaces a vacant school-owned lot at the northwest corner of Wabash Avenue and 8th Street.

The project will feature a glassy facade to connect the building to the surrounding neighborhood and showcase student activity within. Designed with flexibility in mind, it sports a variety of spaces including dance studios, study lofts, maker labs, a fitness center, dining area, and an 800-person event space.

The center was first announced in May of 2017 with a fairly aggressive timetable targeting a late 2018 completion. With underground work just now getting started, it’s little wonder that Columbia has pushed that date back to early 2019.

Image courtesy of Gensler
Image courtesy of Gensler
Image courtesy of Gensler
Image courtesy of Gensler