The University of Illinois at Chicago Circle was one of several “instant campuses” built in response to major growth in college enrollment following World War II. New York and California had even more ambitious schemes and created multiple campuses around the same time.
Though just a single campus, UICC received more publicity than any of the others, in large part because of its architectural design, which was considered revolutionary at the time. The style, known as Brutalism, took its name from the French béton brut, meaning raw concrete. Internationally in vogue from the 1950s to the 1970s, Brutalist architecture avoided polish and elegance. Practicality, economy, and user-friendliness were the principal aims of the stark, rectilinear style. Readily accessible materials such as concrete, brick, and stone were preferred.
As soon as the first phase of construction was completed, the Netsch design received an award from the local American Institute of Architects chapter and a total design award from the National Society of Interior Designers. Architectural Forum magazine covered the developing campus extensively from 1964 through 1970.