University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, Earl Shapiro Hall Early Childhood Center

Chicago, Illinois

  • FIRM

    FGM Architects Inc.


    University of Chicago Laboratory Schools

  • AREA

    130,000 sq.ft.





Founded over 100 years ago to embody a “learn by doing” approach to education, this PK-12 school continues to be a leader of educational excellence. Through research and immersion, the school evaluated the function, program and capacity to reinvent their facilities for 21st Century students. The first phase was an early childhood center for grades PK-2. In ADDITIONAL INFORMATIONASSOCIATED FIRMValerio Dewalt Train Associates (Design Architect)CAPACITY600COST PER SQ FT$391.00CITATIONWilliam W. Caudill CitationFEATURED IN2014 Architectural Portfolio with Lab Schools’ educational philosophies based on the theories of John Dewey, every space is designed to promote the spark of learning and engage children in their own education, from classrooms to the outdoors.


The range of space types embraces students’ and teachers’ desire for choices that optimize learning opportunities. Spaces are designed to promote the gathering of children, such as the arrangement of classrooms around courtyards and unprogrammed learning laboratories. Socialization is as much a part of the educational process as the curriculum. In addition to classrooms, art and music rooms, a library, gymnasium and rooftop playground, the building has administrative and counseling offices. High-performing building systems and construction materials were used to target LEED Silver certification.