In 2007, the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools began one of the most ambitious and far-reaching expansions in their history. This overall re-calibration of the Laboratory Schools has been separated into three phases to allow the school to remain open and fully functional during construction. The phases include a new 120,000 SF building for nursery to the second grade; a new 80,000 SF addition with two performance spaces and multiple music and art classrooms; and the renovation of five existing buildings which range in date from 1903 to 1996. The first of these phases, Earl Shapiro Hall, recently finished construction and opened for the 2013-2014 academic year. The last two phases of the project are estimated to be completed by 2016. VDTA is the Design Architect, with FGM Associates serving as the Architect of Record for all phases of the project.
The Gordon Parks Arts Hall is positioned at the north end of the Lab School’s main campus, sited in place of the demolished Belfield Hall single story workshop. The building serves the Middle School and High School Arts program by providing spaces for music and performing arts education and a 680 seat assembly hall. The Gordon Parks Arts Hall maintains a connection to the existing East and West Belfield towers through glass enclosed corridors. The new building faces Scammons Garden to the north and the Lab Schools’ central courtyard to the south. Both are important exterior spaces used for outdoor play, outdoor teaching and are an extension of the Arts Wing Main Lobby gathering space. The geometry of the design is a modernized extension of the historic Lab Schools’ gothic architecture with Belfield’s angular gabled roof reflected in the angular glass and stone facades of the Arts Wing. Floor to ceiling glass along the north façade wash the interior spaces in natural light, creating a seamless connection between the outdoors and interior. Indiana limestone is used on the exterior to match the existing vernacular, while a glass curtainwall and ribbed metal panels are used to complement the existing building while providing a progressive architectural statement. The Gordon Parks Arts Hall’s four solar chimneys provide verticality and height to the north facing folded glass façade. Extensive green roofs are planted at both the high and low roofs, providing views of natural vegetation from within the Gordon Parks Arts Hall and the existing adjacent buildings.
Renderings © Visualized Concepts