Governors State University Family Development Center

Location: University Park, Illinois
Program: Childcare and Family Resource Center
Status: Complete, 2003
Photography: © Hedrich Blessing, Steve Hall
Selected Recognition: 2004 Chicago Building Congress, Merit Award Finalist.

The Governor’s State University Family Development Center provides training and on-site child care services for the students, staff and faculty of GSU. The “lab school” component not only serves the early childhood age group, but grades K-4 as a Charter School from the local school district. The facility accommodates a community Parenting Program with on and off site services. Students and staff are trained in physical, mental, occupational and speech therapy programs on site. The Family Development Center is located at the community side of the campus, but aligns its front door with the University’s main entrance. The front faces the University with a gently curving administrative bar that then scales down with a main street (art gallery) transition to the children’s classroom houses which then connect with the prairie landscape beyond. The classroom houses are separated by greenhouses where children work together, with teachers and parents, to grow plants and vegetables. A dedicated fine arts classroom has a kiln and a large glass wall for light play. A teacher meeting and work room for staff collaboration is located in the administrative bar. A long corridor separating the administrative bar and classroom houses is used to display art and student progress, and allows for an abundance of natural light. This state of the art center houses a number of programs for the university and surrounding community. Model facilities were visited during design to identify and observe best practice spaces and arrangements. The children’s teaching and learning philosophy, Reggio Emilia, was proposed by the Faculty to be used in the new facility. This philosophy incorporates nature, art and light into every aspect of learning. The resulting state of the art center is arranged in layers of function and discovery.