University of Chicago: Early Childhood Center

Project Location: Chicago, IL

Client: University of Chicago Laboratory Schools

The Earl Shapiro and Gordon Parks Arts Hall at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools celebrates the school’s hands-on approach to play. The sustainable landscape design complements the founder’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.

Image credit: Dave Burk