'A' for architecture: Design of UNO's newest charter school deserves praise

October 3, 2012


Some of the best-looking Chicago schools these days have been the charter campuses built--with surprising frequency, as of late — by the United Neighborhood Organization.
 
The group's newest facility, the UNO Galewood Charter School, which opened late last month is no exception. Tucked away at 2050 N. Natchez on a residential street in the city's Galewood community, the three-story school leaps from its surroundings. Most notable is the remarkable sloped roof on the southern end of the school. The roof surface has small slit-like windows to let in natural light while glass walls enclose the space beneath, creating a two-story, multiuse space topped by a third floor library.
 
Like a good neighbor, the school greets the street well, with an open glassy entrance and warmly-colored siding.
 
 
The main entrance allows views straight through the school's first floor:
 
A concert of concrete, metal and glass:

The $21 million school has 18 classrooms and was designed by UrbanWorks Ltd, a Chicago architecture firm with impressive credits that include the recent revamp of the Benito Juarez high school campus at 21st and Laflin and the UNO Veteran's Memorial School campus at 4248 W. 47th St., in the Archer Heights neighborhood.

UNO operates 13 charter schools. A year ago, the group opened the UNO Soccer Academy, a serpentine, stainless steel clad school that made more than a few architectural "best of" lists in 2011.