University of Chicago Laboratory Schools

Chicago, IL // 2012

As the Chicago Laboratory Schools undergo a campus transformation and expansion, we were approached by educational leaders within the Visual Literacy Group to help them examine this critical moment within their community. The transition involves the addition of new campus facilities and the removal of the lower school from the primary campus. We helped them consider this fuzzy, in-between, culture shift: How can they maintain a strong sense of community across the two campuses? How can they use this change as an opportunity to rethink how space affects their pedagogy? How can they create new traditions and personalize the new space?

After a brief discovery process –– group interview, tours, observation, and surveys –– we held a workshop with leaders, educators, parents, and students on placemaking during this transition. We explored the power of pathways and place within their pedagogy. And the opportunity to explore their physical campus transition as a bridging opportunity for positive, rather than fear driven, cultural chance. We prompted them to co-create rituals, behaviors, and moments to forge a new sense of place and community. This research acted as a catalyst for ongoing discussion about managing positive cultural change through placemaking within their learning community.

Read a blog entry from the experience.

Process Components

  • Group interview and tour of existing campus
  • Survey of educators about place, culture, and transition
  • Placemaking workshop

How can we use campus transformation as an opportunity to forge new pathways, behaviors, and learning opportunities?


Primary Services


Screen Shot 2012-12-31 at 3.27.37 PM.png