Chicago charter school designed by Studio Gang emphasizes sustainability and wellness

The Academy for Global Citizenship’s new purpose-built structure, located in the Garfield Ridge neighborhood of Chicago, is meant to reflect its operating philosophy that the path to a more sustainable future begins in the classroom.

June 02, 2016 |

Rendering Courtesy of Studio Gang

The Academy for Global Citizenship is a Chicago public charter school located in the Garfield Ridge neighborhood that takes an innovative and holistic approach to educating its students. With such a unique approach to learning, a unique building in which the learning could take place was also needed.

That is where Studio Gang came in and designed a campus that combines the qualities of an educational institution with those of an urban farm to create a space for students to learn first hand about wellness and sustainability. According to Studio Gang’s website, the new campus is meant to work in tandem with the school’s mission to provide “a model for educational innovation that has the potential to ignite a global movement for change.” AGC’s current campus, which consists of two buildings separated by a busy road, was not adequately suiting the goals of the school.

According to ArchDaily, the proposed design combines indoor and outdoor learning environments that are laid out around a central courtyard. Instead of separating the different areas of the school with strict boundaries, the areas, while still separated by age groups, are designed to overlap and combine for flexible use and collaboration. Additionally, a “wonder path” connects each environment, both indoor and outdoor, to provide a direct route to various hands-on laboratories and learning stations.


Rendering courtesy Studio Gang


Since sustainability and wellness are such strong components of the schools focus, it needed a campus that reflected those goals. As such, the school hopes to achieve net-positive status, meaning it will produce more energy than it uses. To accomplish this, the school will use a combination of solar energy, greenhouses and seasonal gardens (meant to produce a significant amount of the food used to prepare the students’ meals), stormwater management, natural ventilation, and geothermal systems.

The urban farm will cover three acres and is designed in partnership with Growing Power, a national nonprofit organization that helps provide safe and affordable food for people in all communities. The farm will be integrated into the daily curriculum and will connect students with the food cycle, allowing them to participate in farming, food preparation, and animal care.

Continuing the theme of sustainability and wellness, AGC and Studio Gang plan to use building materials and finishes that are locally sourced and have low-embodied energy. The building itself is oriented to provide peak solar access for the outdoor learning spaces and greenhouses and also to maximize the school’s photovoltaic energy collection.

The campus is meant to be a literal representation of the school’s educational strategy that goes beyond just being a structure where learning can occur to become an actual part of the learning process.


Rendering: Studio Gang


Rendering: Studio Gang

For more pictures and renderings of the project, click here.

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