Earl Shapiro Hall

Chicago, Illinois / United States of America

The design began with an exhaustive research phase focused on early childhood development and the impact of the environment can. ESH is an expression of this study and the values of the U of Cā€™s Laboratory Schools. Team teaching, the importance of natural light, creative play ā€“ both indoors and outdoors, focus on the student instead of the curriculum, learning by doing, the creation of un-programmed learning labs, connect the research and the design. These are facts, but tradition, especially, the importance of the library as a symbol were also determinants. The building is straightforward ā€“ It is composed of two parts, an entry wing and a classroom wing. ESH includes Nursery through 2nd Grade. The classrooms are in pairs, connected through shared meeting rooms for collaboration. Between the banks of classrooms are two learning labs with courtyards that bring natural light into the center of the building. The floating library celebrates its importance and defines the public street entry. The south face on all three levels is self-shading angled away from the sun. Tucked under this form is the main gathering space where students connect with their teachers in the morning and reconnect with their families in the evening.

Architect of Record

FGM Architects

Associate Architect

Valerio Dewalt Train Associates


The University of Chicago

General Contractor

Lend Lease


  • Rubinos & Mesia Engineers
  • ARUP
  • HJ Kessler Associates Inc.