New school is a numero UNO example of great design

September 19, 2011

Cookie-cutter, could-be-built-anywhere buildings pop up too often across the city's landscape--particularly in the city's neighborhoods and especially in minority communities, where the transformative powers of great architecture are seldom put to work.

Thankfully, now comes the UNO Soccer Academy, an iconic and sensational $27 million elementary charter school built by the United Neighborhood Organization that officially opened last week at 51st and Homan for a predominately Latino student population. WBEZ education reporter Linda Lutton did a fine piece last week of the school's opening, complete with audio and interior shots. So let's have a quick look around the building's exterior.

Designed by Chicago firm JGMA Architects. Led by Bogota native Juan Gabriel Moreno, the school is an unusual and spectacular piece of architecture--and one that makes the new firm worthy of keeping an eye on. Metallic and serpentine, the school provides a shock of the new in Gage Park, a Southwest Side neighborhood that was largely built-up prior to World War II. And the school could soon have neighbors. Under a masterplan designed by Chicago's STL Architects,  a high school, a stadium and a community plaza are planned.