Located in Chicago’s Garfield Ridge neighborhood, the AGC is a fast-growing K-8 Public Charter School that will soon welcome a pre-K program. To accommodate its growing student body, AGC hired Studio Gang to design a new campus that eschews traditional schooling for a model that encourages curiosity and embraces natural systems into everyday learning. As a result, the typical boxy classroom is traded for a series of indoor and outdoor learning environments grouped together into “learning neighborhoods” with fluid boundaries to encourage learning and interaction between students of different grade levels. A “Wonder Path” seamlessly connects the different neighborhoods and environments together, from indoor to outdoor and from hands-on laboratories to play areas.
One of the greatest features of the new 65,000-square-foot school will be a three-acre urban farm, design in partnership with Growing Power, that will be integrated into the daily curriculum. Students will learn how to grow their own food, care for farm animals, and prepare the produce into meals for breakfast and lunch. “Participating in farming, food preparation, and animal care creates opportunities for students to learn about the relationship between humans and nature, while also developing patience, self-confidence, empathy, and an open mind to healthy new foods and to becoming a better global and local citizen,” says an AGC press release.
Related: Farming preschool would teach kids how to grow their own food
The architecture will also embody the school’s commitment to sustainable practices. The building will be constructed with locally sourced materials and harness energy from solar and geothermal sources. Passive solar principles will be followed in order to maximize photovoltaic energy collection and maximize natural daylighting. Stormwater will also be collected and reused on-site. AGC aims to become a net-positive school that produces more energy than it consumes and is slated for completion in 2018.
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Images via Studio Gang Architects