Little Village Academy

Location: Chicago, Illinois
Program: K-5 Primary School
Status: Complete, 1996
Photography: © Hedrich Blessing, Steve Hall
Selected Recognition: 2002 Institute Honor Award for Architecture, American Institute of Architects. 1999 Institute Honor Award for Interior Architecture, American Institute of Architects. 1998 Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Award for Architectural Excellence in Community Design, Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards. 1997 Distinguished Building Award, American Institute of Architects Chicago. 1996 Silver Medal, Illinois Indiana Masonry Council.

Little Village Academy is located in the heart of Chicago’s Mexican community. The site is minimal, 400′ x 120′, and is bordered by commercial properties along Lawndale and 27th Street. Residential properties line the West and North. The small site dictates a very efficient plan. The three story building is organized around a central staircase to form the functional and spiritual heart of the school.

The curved, sky lit stair enclosure is highlighted by a three story vertical sundial, also marking the building’s main entrance. Other special rooms receive unique facade treatments: the library has a clerestoried reading room, the science lab has a greenhouse bay window and the cafeteria curves into the playground. Granite boulders form a processional barrier to maximize playground safety. Materials for the 68,000 square foot, $7 million building were selected for cost effectiveness and durability. Major finishes include split and ground face concrete block, glazed brick and block, and particle board paneling.