University of Chicago: Gordon Parks Arts Hall

Project Location: Chicago, IL

Client: University of Chicago Laboratory Schools

The Gordon Parks Arts Hall at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools features performance halls, studios, and rehearsal spaces that celebrate the Lab School’s hands on approach to theater, music, and visual arts. This entry plaza and sustainable landscape complement the Lab’s approach to education as a model for creative thinking by highlighting natural systems in the landscape. The design demonstrates a focus on learning through ecological stewardship and free play.

A series of exterior classrooms, including a rain garden, a native grove of trees, and a mound system, are used to convey ideas about water activity to engender a deeper understanding of the natural world in this urban setting. The entry plaza features a series of linear benches that extend into the landscape to provide ample seating opportunities that overlook the lush rain garden landscape and rolling landforms.

Photo credit: Dave Burk