The Laboratory Schools, founded in 1904, serve students from Nursery School through 12th Grade. Earl Shapiro Hall (ESH) is part of a master plan which also includes 300,000 sf of historic preservation and adaptive reuse, and a new 100,000 sf Arts Hall.
The Master Plan began with an exhaustive research phase documented in “The Future of Education”. The intent was to embed the latest thinking about how children learn in every aspect of the architecture.
ESH is an expression of this research and the values of the institution. Team teaching, the importance of natural light, creative play – both indoors and outdoors, focus on the student instead of the curriculum, learning by doing, the creation of un-programmed learning labs for individual exploration, the emphasis on spaces where kids can learn from each other, these and many other innovative concepts informed the design.
The building is quite simple – a classroom wing and an entry wing. The classrooms are in pairs and connect through shared meeting rooms for collaboration. Between the banks of classrooms are the learning labs with courtyards that bring natural light into the center of the building.
The Lab Schools value knowledge as expressed by the cantilevered library that defines the very public entry from the street. Tucked under this form is the gathering space where students connect with their teachers in the morning and re-connect with their families in the evening.
We are also excited to announce that the new Earl Shapiro Hall at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools has recently received the William W. Caudill Citation from American School & University, as well as an ENR Midwest Best Project Award, K-12 Education.