UNO Elementary School Soccer Academy / JGMA

Courtesy of

Architects: JGMA
Location: , Illinois, USA
Owner: United Neighborhood Organization (UNO)
Design Team: Juan Gabriel Moreno, Cosmin Vrajitoru, Jason Nuttelman, John Rausch, David Ruffing, Linda Chavez, Michael Cady
Design Builder/Structural: Ghafari
Electrical & Mechanical Consultant: Primera
Landscape Architect: Terry Guen Associates
Project Area: 63,300 sf
Photographs: Courtesy of JGMA


Courtesy of JGMA

JGMA lead the design for this innovative elementary school in Chicago, IL. It is the newest charter school for the United Neighborhood Organization (UNO) which runs 11 charter schools in mostly Hispanic Chicago neighborhoods.

Courtesy of JGMA

Located in the Gage Park Neighborhood, this school stands to serve 575 students as well as a multitude of community members. The school is the first component in UNO’s vision for an entire campus focused on engaging the neighborhood through education, community outreach, and soccer.

Courtesy of JGMA

The building anchors the corner of the site at 51st and Homan Ave. The plan has been organized such that students will always experience a connection between the interior (learning environments) and the exterior (community). The building appears to grow out of the ground where programs such as learning theaters and soccer fields frame a courtyard. As the building movement continues upward, the classrooms frame the mid-section of the plan and then culminates in a community center that frames views of the of the Chicago skyline, inspiring students and neighboring residents to achieve their potential. This growth is mimicked in the classrooms as they ascend from low to high with grade level, respectively. Classrooms are named for countries or continents that have hosted the World Cup, with the most current on the first floor amongst the youngest students and the more historical on the top floor with the oldest students. The plan highlights daylight, views, and community connectivity by locating the corridors along the largely glass exterior where the student activity on the inside is displayed clearly on the outside. Along the opposite side of the corridor, the classrooms include a floor to ceiling glass wall which allows the natural light to fully penetrate the space, creating an effective and efficient teaching and learning environment.

Courtesy of JGMA

This school embodies what educational facilities should represent; the hopes and dreams of their local communities. The project opened September 2011 and is designed to achieve LEED Silver Certification. In November 2011, UNO received Chicago Architecture Foundation ‘Patron of the Year’ Award for the UNO Elementary School Soccer Academy.

Courtesy of JGMA

View this project in Google Maps

* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "UNO Elementary School Soccer Academy / JGMA" 21 Dec 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 24 May 2015. <>
  • H.A.

    Well, I am quite surprised and I have to say, many more are surprised in Europe about the lack of fresh blood in the American architectural scene (except in south america, indeed). It seems that it will die out with Steven Holl´s generation!!

    • Tim

      That’s an odd thing to say. Asymptote, Diller+Scofidio, Neil Denari, Studio Gang, Michael Maltzan, Preston Scott Cohen, it goes on and on.

      I’m not worried about the level of talent in America.

      In Europe, you’ve got BIG and Snohetta and… anybody else? Maybe Zaha Hadid, but she’s getting pretty old.

  • H.A.

    exactly, that´s what I meant. no one is first class. Don ´t have any doubt that as big business american architects are number one together with British.

    Please, BIG and Zaha are not exactly representative of good european architecture. David Chipperfield, Zumthor, Rafael Moneo, Siza, Souto de Moura, Aires Mateus, herzog and de meuron…That´s pretty much a list of pritzker prize winners

    • H.A.

      I meant no offence by the way. In other times in history europe was only focused in the past and USA was leading architecture. Things change, and will change again. And of course USA is leader in most fields, so no need to be the best in everything

      • ed

        Chipperfield, Zumthor, Moneo, Siza, Souto de Moura, Aires Mateus are all pritzker prize winner yes…they are also all from an older generation. I would put anyone in the US up against the european architects. It is silly to say that either continent is leading the other.

        Gang, Holl, Maltzan, Scofidio, REX, Phifer, Work AC, Allied Works, Manfredi are just some of the great US architects; all of which can stand up against any european firm such as UNStudio, Snohetta, BIG, JDS, Henning Larsen, Nieto + Sobejano, etc.

        … these lists don’t even include some amazing mexican/south american architects like Mathias Klotz, Mazzanti, Norten, Rojkind, Aravena, Fernando Romero, etc.

        I think you should become a little more learned before voicing such an erroneous opinion H.A.

  • H.A.

    You´re right, most of those are older (as those in your list by the way), but in reality i was talking more for what I see in this website. I think i haven´seen many good buildings coming from the US, and that is a personal opinion. In contrast you see those coming from small unknown offices from Portugal, Switzerland, Norway, Spain, and for the moment the level is still good. Won´t be for long though as the industry is going for the standard mediocrity. This is already a problem in the UK and US, where I worked for a long time. Is not a question of talent, is more the industry, and I am really worried about that, because I don´t see a good future for architecture.

    Agree that South american architects are a great exception to that, if you read again my first comment you will see that I already spoke about how good they´re getting.

    Again, I meant no offence, It´s just a comment for what I see in this site, no intention to touch your national pride

  • tom

    Are there any other buildings with a similar program to this?

  • michael

    hello please am michael from ghana which it has always been my dream to play soccer in u.s state so please l wanna know the fees and the steps so that l can come there as soon as possible so please call me on +233574166029 which l am 20 years of age but play for under 17 for a team in ghana