Gordon Parks Arts Hall

Chicago, Illinois / United States of America

Gordon Parks Arts Hall is a 21st Century makerspace for the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools. Every space is designed to create and present content. The structure reinterprets the adjacent neo-gothic architecture, creating a visual dialogue with the past while looking squarely to the future. 

The building is bracketed by the two symmetrical neo-gothic towers of Belfield Hall at the north end of the University of Chicago Laboratory School’s main campus. The 1904 limestone façade of Belfield is reflected and re-interpreted in a muscular form in the Arts Hal. It is symbolic of the evolution of Lab Schools’ values over time and the commitment to “present art as a language with unique expressive powers,” integral to the school’s ambitious educational mission.

The building has an inventory of spaces including art and music labs on the upper floors and on the ground floor there is a formal art gallery, two large rehearsal rooms and the Studio Theater - also used for cinema screening. Adjacent are two large performance spaces; the 750-seat assembly and music hall, and the Sherry Lansing 250-seat black-box theater, which also can be used as a sound stage.

Central to Lab Schools’ pedagogy is John Dewey’s educational philosophy of hands on project based learning. Lab school extends this philosophy to include an emphasis on multi-media literacy; the idea that in a multi-media, it is imperative to learn how to communicate in every possible medium. Gordon Parks Arts Halls provides the backdrop, tools and environment to promote learning and making now, and for the future. 

Architect of Record

FGM Architects

Associate Architect

Valerio Dewalt Train


University of Chicago Laboratory Schools

General Contractor

Lend Lease


  • Rubinos + Mesia
  • ARUP
  • Primera