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.
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.
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.
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.