Chicago Cultural Center

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 primal 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

Year: 1995
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Area: 27,194 square feet

Key Features

600-seat auditorium
150-seat auditorium
50-seat auditorium
foyer/gathering space
executive offices
exhibition gallery
training rooms


American Institute of Architects, Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art and Architecture, Religious Art and Architecture Design Award, This is the highest national design award given specifically for the design of a religious facility, 2000
American Institute of Architects, Northeast Illinois, Merit in Architecture Award, 1999
Society of American Registered Architects, Special Recognition Award, 2003
Association of Licensed Architects, Design Excellence Award, 2000
Illinois Indiana Masonry Council, Gold Medal Award, 1995