Perspectives Charter School is the physical expression of a new Chicago school dedicated to the mission of providing lower-income urban students with a rigorous and relevant education to prepare them for life in a changing and competitive world. Its signature design signals to the community at large that learning is a paramount civic priority. By participating in an architectural conversation with Chicago’s commercial and cultural landmarks, Perspectives Charter School emphasizes the role of education in the civic landscape. The triangular building’s multi-story windows invite the outside community into the building visually, physically and figuratively. Significantly adding to the revitalization of a struggling lower-income Chicago neighborhood, Perspectives actively shares its facility with community organizations that offer enrichment programs to youth. The new facility parallels the personality of Perspective Charter School’s educational model: versatile, challenging, dynamic, and progressive. Its unique shape and spaces echo the school’s commitment to creativity in education. The beauty and ambition of the new building underline what the school can accomplish for its students. It includes state-of-the-art science and computer labs, a research library, a cooking kitchen for the school’s healthy meal program, and two floors of spacious classrooms. The facility is designed to feel like home for users of diverse ages. Workspaces and classrooms are simultaneously comfortable and stimulating, featuring natural light and bright colors. The dynamic form of the building encourages students to consider their studies from many perspectives, and emphasize the school’s commitment to innovation. Large common areas facilitate community and communication, while offices, small group areas, and classrooms permit teachers, students, and staff to work intensively without disruption. The open-core building is centered around a heavily used multi-use space called the “Family Room,” a lofty, daylit space overlooked by second floor balconies. The room’s two-story walls graphically display – in both English and Spanish – the principles of the school’s character education curriculum called “A Disciplined Life”. This core philosophy encourages students, teachers, and outside visitors to reflect on the ethical commitments of all members of the school community. It is a central organizing principal of the school’s belief system, its curriculum and consequently, the planning of the school. Understanding the relationship between daylit classrooms and test scores, the long axis of the building is oriented east/west and affords all classroom spaces north and south exposure. Each classroom offers a combination of low and high linear windows to afford both visual connection to the outdoors and ample daylight to reach deep into the classrooms. The initial planning process took place in a workshop format with a series of presentations designed to illuminate current trends education, facility responses to the same and conversations regarding specific and appropriate strategies for Perspectives. Integral to these workshops were numerous discussions regarding “A Disciplined Life”, the culture of the school and how it the building should be the physical embodiment of these important concepts. The result is a new building, constructed on a very limited budget, which reflects the unique culture and philosophy of Perspectives Charter School.
Perspectives Charter School
Project Status: Built
Chicago, Illinois, United States
- Architect: Perkins+Will
- Photography: Steinkamp/Ballogg Photography Inc., James Steinkamp Photographer