ab+ is a once-in-a-lifetime
opportunity for the Schools that represents the culmination of nearly two
decades of planning on the part of our community. Lab+ will help maintain the
diversity so central to our community while allowing for transformative
improvements to every aspect of the Schools’ programs and campus.
Here are some of the many collaborative milestones
leading up to the Schools’ current work:
Schools’ administrators, board, teachers, and planning professionals initiate a
process to address immediate needs as well as long-term goals for the Schools.
firm Nagle Hartray creates a Master Plan to bring structure to the Schools’
planning. It is built on extensive studies about what kind of space the institution
will need in the future to effectively meet its mission.
earliest stage, the Schools contemplate the need for a new arts “wing,” an
assembly space large enough to hold an entire division, and small flexible
theater spaces for both the Middle and High Schools.
a first-ever—albeit comparatively small—capital fundraising effort, the Schools
build a new Middle School and renovate Rowley Library—the initial phases of
improvements needed to meet the school’s programmatic objectives.
the successful Campaign for the Gymnasium, Kovler Gymnasium, a seamless
addition to Sunny Gym, is completed.
University (having already turned over portions of Judd Hall for Laboratory
Schools’ use) begins to better assess requirements to ultimately make all of
Judd ready for classroom/student use.
leadership determines that increasing the size of the High School by +100
students would bring the school in line with ideal size, providing the student
base to support a broader array of desired activities and academic offerings.
School science labs are renovated and updated.
Hartray returns to bring shape and cohesion to a variety of issues related to
the growth of the High School that require leadership attention, from how to
best use new space in Judd Hall to programmatic needs in the arts and libraries
to facilities issues: life safety, aging buildings, and infrastructure.
University support (and with the original Master Plan now well over a decade
old), the Schools engage Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP for a next stage
Master Plan process. Among the goals:
expansion of the high school for 100 additional students
libraries and allow for growth
enhance visual and performing arts facilities throughout the school
faculty spaces and dining facilities and provide state-of-the-art
infrastructure and necessary life safety systems and access to support the
campus into the future
presents several potential configurations of existing and new structures to
meet the goals. Suggested improvements include:
flexible 350-seat theater center for the Middle and High Schools
dining/recital hall complex for the Middle and High Schools
arts education and gallery spaces, as well as musical and performing arts
rooms, for all divisions
libraries for all divisions
science, computer, and language laboratories
and improved Lower School classrooms and facilities
outdoor public spaces
state-of-the-art building infrastructure and a fully-accessible and intelligent
University approves moving forward with the essence of SOM’s Master Plan. The
University and Lab identify a financial framework for the effort, including
University and campaign-funded financial commitments.
that plans to grow the University faculty population would limit Lab’s ability
to maintain a diverse student body (and emphasizing that non-University
families were an important aspect of that diversity and the Lab experience),
the University president tasks the Lab board with identifying solutions.
committee concludes that Lab could in fact grow the size of the school assuming
it re-organizes from four divisions into five—each would be right-sized in
terms of serving students, maintaining community, having a principal who could
know every child, etc.
revises its proposed Master Plan to reflect the addition of 276 students
(including the long discussed addition of 100 high school students.)
returns with revised Master Plan designs amended to propose the construction of
an Early Childhood Center on Lab’s existing campus (assuming Woodlawn would be
The Schools explore whether additional nearby land might
offer a possible expansion location. No obvious and/or attainable parcels of
land appear to exist.
Locating the new center on the south section of Jackman
Field (between Dorchester and Kimbark) evolves as the only solution both
practical and consistent with Lab’s values and need for green space. The
Schools begin to gather input from many constituents.
of Earl Shapiro commits $10 million to the Lab+ Campaign. The gift, linked in
no small way to the Master Plan process, kicks off a key fundraising phase and
allows the Schools to begin the process of hiring an architect.
a months-long RFP process, the team of Valerio Dewalt Train Associates (a
generalist architecture firm with strong design credentials) and FGM (a school
specialist) is selected. The team brings everything and more that the Schools
and the project require, including 15 other specialists in such areas as
historic preservation, theater design, acoustics engineering, landscape, and
manages an extensive fact-finding and preparatory process that will inform
their work. It includes these major steps:
65 hours participating in every aspect of Lab: riding buses to school with kids,
joining carline on a hectic Friday dismissal, attending classes in every
division and discipline, sitting in on athletics practices and theater
rehearsals, learning about Lab history and tradition, and more.
26 University and Lab administrators, the four Lab principals, teachers,
parents, and students help define the priority needs.
90 hours of interviews with faculty, parents, students, staff, and
administrators. Every member of the faculty, staff, and administration offered
at least one opportunity to share ideas and concerns.
VDTA/FGM, with representatives of Lab, visit best-in-class schools around the
Determining current and desired state of the physical plan.
and administrators seek expertise from some of the country’s greatest thinkers
and educators—people deemed expert in fields as diverse as management science,
psychology, information technology, library planning, and even anthropology and
genetics—whose ideas are used to help inform and shape the process. The team
brings together all their finding in a document called “Outlook: The Future of
envelope repair begins, including tuckpointing and roof repairs to Blaine Hall.
to use the parcel of land that is Doctor’s Hospital on Stony Island Avenue
becomes possible. University Trustees give permission to proceed with planning
under an assumption that the Stony Island site could be a viable alternative
for the Early Childhood Campus. The concept offers both opportunity and
challenge and is very worthy of serious consideration.
extensive effort to involve Lab’s many constituents in the discussion begins:
faculty, parents, the alderman, and the broader public are all invited to
architects and the planning committee share with Lab’s Board very initial Stony
Island ECC schematics and correspondingly revised main campus plans for the
arts wing. Discussion about ways to preserve important aspects of Lab’s culture
are raised, and it is noted that teacher involvement in these solutions will be
trustees approve initial schematic design for the ECC at the Stony Island site
and provide finances to finish work on Blaine roof repairs and for architects
to proceed with more extensive design work for the ECC.
hold special sessions with N–2 faculty to get input about their specific needs
and goals for an ECC space specifically at Stony Island. Preliminary floor
plans schematics are used in the discussion.
hold 30+ meetings each with specific departments or divisions to share ideas
about the proposed plans and to get specialized and focused feedback. All
members of the division/department are invited to attend. More than 100
different Lab employees at all levels participate.
traffic consultants, and the Parents’ Association invite all parents to discuss
traffic and safety issues related to the Stony Island site, including safely
accessing the public park across Stony from the site.
University of Chicago’s Board of Trustees approves key elements of the Lab+
Planning and Facilities Committee approves the entire schematic design of the
Laboratory Schools’ renovation and expansion project
Financial Planning Committee authorizes funds to implement the first
construction phase of the project, allowing Lab to move forward on the Early
Childhood Campus, as well as key renovations to existing historic campus.
The Laboratory Schools' community celebrates groundbreaking for Earl Shapiro Hall with a grand party on the cleared construction site.
· Construction begins in earnest on Earl Shapiro Hall. To view the webcam of progress, visit http://labcam.uchicago.edu/view/viewer_index.shtml?id=159.