Innovative Facility

The University of Chicago’s new innovative facility is the Laboratory School, Earl Shapiro Hall.  Designed for children from nursery school through second grade, the learning environment is meant to be another teacher by stimulating natural curiosity and room for independent action.

The Laboratory Schools of the University of Chicago’s founding principle is to provide children with an authentic engagement to the students natural desire to learn.  The spaces that are used for their education are one of the essential parts of making this principle achievable.  In this spirit, Valerio Dewalt Train and FGM Architects were tasked to make a building for the preschool, kindergarten, first and second grade students that is authentic and sustainable.

The core design response was to make a building that starts with the classroom, creating an environment that gives the students spaces filled with daylight and plenty of access to the outdoors.  In the classrooms, gathering spaces and other teaching spaces, the practical elements of the building were left exposed whenever possible.

“If you make a choice to expose the building structure, careful control of the detailing and finish quality becomes essential.  Mid-States Concrete Industries listened to what we were asking for and was prepared to work closely with us during the preconstruction phase to set high and achievable expectations for the precast elements in the building.  How to manage the level of finish, how to transport the finished products to the site, mock ups of the finishes, and working with us on the quality control measures during the erection have all been aspects of the effective dialog with Mid-States during this project,” said Randy Mattheis, AIA, Principal at Valerio Dewalt Train.

Lend Lease brought Mid-States onto the team early for the design assist phase of the project.  Working closely with the design team the schedule was kept on track.

“The Early Childhood project was an exceptionally challenging yet highly successful project due to the extra efforts by the Mid-States team.  Mid-States did a great job with erecting the building and the quality of the precast panels are some of the best we’ve seen.  We look forward to teaming up on the next one,”  said Werner Kleidorfer, Sr. Superintendent at Lend Lease.

“Outside of the constant jabbering about University of Wisconsin football, I could not have been more pleased with the safety performance of the Mid-States team at our project.  I learned a great deal from the crews about the precast erecting methods.  Anytime I had an issue or question, there was never a hesitation, it was taken care of immediately.  I look forward to the opportunity to work with Mid-States again in the very near future,”  Martin Leik, Project EH&S Manager, Lend Lease.

The entire Mid-States team is proud to have been a part of the Lab School project.  This is a very special building being used for amazing young people.

Students will attend their first day of classes in the fall of 2013. 

Click here to view our photostream.

Rendering courtesy of Valerio Dewalt Train and FGM


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