180 N. Wabash, Chicago
On behalf of the Meadville Lombard Board of Trustees, we are delighted to announce that the board has voted unanimously in favor of moving the school to a new space located in the Loop, the main section of Downtown Chicago. The MLTS Leadership Team has completed a detailed financial analysis, listened to the needs of our students, reimagined what MLTS can offer to the community, and made a sound recommendation to the board. We are in full support of it and cannot be more excited for the beginning of the school’s new era. Rev. Anya Sammler-Michael & Rev. Parisa Parsa
MLTS Board Co-Chairs
Our new space is where the red marker is on this map. The purple marker is our current location.
At a special meeting of the Board called in March 2021, the Meadville Lombard Leadership Team — President Ortega, Vice President Lightsey, and Vice President Redman — recommended that Meadville Lombard enter a 12-year lease for space in the 180 N. Wabash building. This was not a decision arrived at lightly, as we have enjoyed a good relationship with the Spertus Institute, and we know that moving our entire operation will be challenging and disruptive. But we strongly believe that this move will enhance the experience of our students and prepare us well for the future.
Our 10-year lease for office space at the Spertus Building expires in December 2021. Although the lease provides for two 5-year renewals, the Leadership Team believed it was in the best interests of the school to test the real estate market given the current environment that has resulted from the pandemic.
In order to identify desirable space, and to live into good stewardship of our financial resources, the Leadership Team named the following priorities:
Over the years and, more specifically, in a survey taken by the Student Advisory Council in the Spring of 2019, the results of which were shared with the BOT at the time, our students have shared their desires for improvements to our space including:
Our time at Spertus has been a period of stabilization. A decade ago, after experiencing substantial financial stress, the decision was made to sell the Meadville Lombard buildings in Hyde Park in order to generate funds to sustain the school’s operations. Needing a new home, the modern, newly constructed Spertus Building was selected to represent the forward-looking vision of the school and to be the location of a new iteration of Meadville Lombard and its curricula. During this 10-year period, the school stabilized financially, academically, and administratively. We are now in a position to determine the future direction of Meadville Lombard that asks us to consider two very different options:
The space at 180 N. Wabash allows for growth and flexibility that are not afforded by Spertus, without us incurring significant expenses. In addition, our new space will include:
The design of the space at 180 N. Wabash also recognizes changes in work preferences that have been evolving both before and during the pandemic. Although we currently have approximately 21 employees, we have designed the space to accommodate only 8 private offices for those people who regularly need privacy for phone and in-person conversations. Working remotely is a reality of the current labor force. The vast majority of our employees have expressed a desire to be in the office less than half-time and we have learned during the pandemic that we are able to work well together and maintain a strong sense of community even when we are all fully remote. Consequently, we are comfortable allowing employees to work from home and they will have ample stations to plug laptops into when they are in the office. Our faculty will have a dedicated faculty lounge with secure storage for their belongings and space to socialize with their colleagues. In addition to a large conference room, two small meeting rooms will also be available to accommodate those without offices as needed.
We firmly believe we have designed a great space — one that provides classrooms that we can use any time of day or night without additional expense, one that provides a chapel that will be available to students of all faiths, one that accommodates our employees’ preferred work arrangements, and one that provides us the flexibility to make changes as we grow into our future. We are confident that entering into a lease at 180 N. Wabash reflects good stewardship of our financial resources as well as a new space that addresses the shortcomings of our current space and envisions future needs.
These interior photos are "before" we start customizing the space for our needs. We cannot wait to share the "after" photos later in the year!