Lindsay Hiser
Me on the steps of Keller

Lindsay Hiser, MPP Class of 2023, shares her experience getting to know the state-of-the-art Keller Center that Harris calls home.

I moved to Hyde Park in early September, just in time to begin Math & Coding Camp and other Orientation programming. Now I’m reflecting on the people and places that have made Hyde Park feel like home, including the home to the Harris community: the Keller Center.

Situated on the University of Chicago’s main campus, just south of the Midway Plaisance, the Keller Center is where Harris students, faculty, and staff congregate to study, work, and learn from one another. It’s an impressive building, both in its amenities and design.

In keeping with my enthusiastic appreciation of buildings that excel in both function and form, I’m using this post to share my first impressions of the Keller Center as a new Harris student.

Access to resources

Being a Harris student means that academic support and resources are always within reach. The Dean of Students Office, where students can meet with advisors, is positioned directly across from the building’s main entrance. The Harris Tech Bar is on the building’s lower level, providing support to any students or faculty in nearby classrooms.

As a prospective student, I attended a handful of webinars about academic support at Harris and the accessibility of resources. It’s nice to see that those resources are as physically visible in the Keller Center as they were communicated to me on Zoom.

computer screen with problem sets in forum
My view while reviewing problem sets in the Forum

Thoughtful design

Apart from its resources and function as a university building, the Keller Center is a stunning place to learn. Its open layout allows for easy navigation and promotes a feeling of interconnectedness among students as they go about their course schedules and student organization meetings. A four-story atrium fills the Forum with natural light, making it a welcoming place to study for long periods of time without feeling like you’ve entered a black hole (that’s what the stacks are for).

I’m inspired by the thoughtful building design and feel lucky to have it as a part of my new community.

view of keller from across the grass and trees near midway plaisance
View of Keller from the walking path near Midway Plaisance

Places to gather

There is a multitude of gathering spaces at Keller. Inside the building, I’d pass students talking near the Harris Café, on the steps of the Forum, or in the kitchenette across from the classrooms. I’d chat with friends as we waited for the bus, which stops to pick up and drop off students directly outside the front entrance.

The Keller Center was the first and most impactful way I was introduced to the University of Chicago campus. I’m grateful for the days when I approach the building and find familiar faces mingling outside the front entrance. It has been a joy to experience the Harris community in and around the Keller Center.