UChicago Child Development Center - Stony Island

Chicago, Illinois / United States of America

A natural place to begin lifelong Learning: 
Inspired by an adjacent historic landscape, the University of Chicago Childcare Development Center - Stony Island integrates the natural environment with its architecture and child-centered curriculum. The building and its grounds insist that nature, play, and learning should be seamless. 
A z-shaped building sits in the modest infill site creating two expansive play courts, accessible from every classroom. They are oriented for optimal sunlight, and offer a wide range of shapes, textures and experiences for kids. The natural world palette became key to having the building support the core design principles. The eastern wing, clad in tree bark siding, is designed for infants and toddlers. The western wing, clad in an unpainted cement board siding, serves children through the age of five. At the overlap of the two wings is the emotional center of the building. It is a space for guests to enter, staff to work, and families to check-in. 
The Center is more "look-within-me" than "look-at-me." Rather than competing with the size or glamour of the adjacent buildings, the focus of the center remains on the child's perspective and outdoor play. Consequently, the richness of experience hugs the ground.

Architect of record

Lawrence Kearns
Wheeler Kearns Architects
343 S. Dearborn St., Suite 200
Chicago, IL 60604, USA
Phone: 312-939-7787

Associate architect

Sharlene Young
Wheeler Kearns Architects
343 S. Dearborn St., Suite 200
Chicago, IL 60604, USA
Phone: 312-939-7787

General contractor

Christopher Hogan
Leopardo Companies, Inc.
5200 Prairie Stone Parkway
Hoffman Estates, IL 60192, USA
Phone: 847-902-4418

Consultant 1

Tod Hara
MIG, Inc.
800 Hearst Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94710, USA
Phone: 510 845 7549

Consultant 2

Lindsay Bose Zander
Primera Engineers, Ltd.
100 S. Wacker Drive, Suite 700
Chicago, IL 60606, USA
Phone: 312-606-0910

Consultant 3

David Weihing
Thorton Tomasetti, Inc
330 N Wabash Ave Ste 1500
Chicago, IL 60611, USA
Phone: 312.596.2140

Consultant 4

Laurie Kamper
Threshold Acoustics LLC
53 W Jackson #815
Chicago, IL 60604, USA
Phone: 312-386-1400


Steve Hall
Hedrich Blessing
400 N. Peoria St.
Chicago, IL 60642, USA
Phone: 312-491-1101

Photographer 2

Daniel Wicke
1801 S Throop St
Chicago, IL 60608, USA
Phone: 615.423.4087