Inspired by an adjacent historic landscape, the University of Chicago Childcare Development Center – Stony Island integrates the natural environment with its architecture and child-centered curriculum. A z-shaped building sits in the modest infill site to optimize daylight and private exterior connections.
Natural play courts, which adjoin two by-passing classroom wings, provide for age-appropriate physical challenges and exploration. The eastern wing, clad in tree bark siding, is designed for infants and toddlers. The western wing, clad in an unpainted cement board siding, serves children up to the age of five years old. Both wings are topped by a gently folded roof, the eastern half of which is vegetated. At the overlap of the two wings is the emotional center of the building. It is a space for guests to enter, staff to work, and families to drop off their children. The walk to the central entry is bounded by monumental boulders, a gabion stone fence, and ornamental trees.
Interiors: Wheeler Kearns Architects (Sharlene Young, founder of Symbiotic Living)
General Contractor: Leopardo Construction
Landscape Architecture: MIG Berkeley
Photography: Steve Hall / Hedrich Blessing