Certified LEED Silver, this building provided a new home for two specialized schools sponsored by the Leslie Shankman School Corporation. The Sonia Shankman Orthogenic School serves students with emotional challenges, and the Hyde Park Day School serves students with moderate to severe learning disabilities. The two schools share the 75,000 sqft building, which provides living spaces for residential and transitional students, a gymnasium, an exercise room, multipurpose rooms and an art studio.
Occupying a C-shaped site, the facility is positioned close to the sidewalk to achieve the Chicago planning department’s goal of creating an urban edge along 63rd Street. The L-shaped building is anchored on both ends by the two schools, with shared spaces between. In the crook of the “L” is a quiet, therapeutic courtyard, with a fenced-in green recreational space immediately to the north.
The building had to fulfill competing goals: The exterior had to look architecturally unified yet non-institutional, and it had to indicate the presence of two separate school entities. To humanize its scale, the building is broken into three masses — the O-School, the HPDS and a gymnasium between — articulating the presence of two distinct schools, with different functions and missions. Each school has its own entry. The masses are tied together visually by playfully colored brick striping at the building’s base, which presents a dynamic facade to the surrounding urban neighborhood.
With a new, state of the art home that was designed exclusively for these children and adolescents, the mission of these schools can continue to provide a safe haven for the neediest of children. With participation in the design efforts by children and staff from both schools, we produced more than a building; The final building design and structure is conducive to healing and learning.
The building successfully fulfilled competing goals: The exterior appears architecturally unified yet non-institutional, while still indicating the presence of two separate school entities.