Woodlawn Charter reveals design for new school

A group of neighborhood residents led by University of Chicago Charter School sophomores Ciera Wilson and John West embarks on a tour of their school’s under-construction new Woodlawn Campus building, which faces 63rd Street to the north between South University and South Greenwood avenues, Monday afternoon, May 23. – Marc Monaghan

By TONIA HILL
Staff Writer

The University of Chicago Charter School gave community tours of its Woodlawn High School Campus, 6300 S. University Ave., which is currently under construction.

The three-story, 70,000 square foot building features a brick design based on West African textiles and inspired by Kente cloth, a type of silk and cotton fabric made of intertwined cloth strips.

The brick design has movement and is meant to mimic some of the patterns that you see [on Kente cloth] without being a direct copy, said Damon Warren, technology director for U. of C. Woodlawn, who is also managing construction of the building.

On Tuesday, May 23, a couple of U. of C. Woodlawn students provided hardhat tours for the up and coming space.

U. of C. Woodlawn senior Kevin Jones and sophomore Xavier Brice were some of the students who led small tours of the building.

Jones and Brice are a part of a group of students who meet weekly to discuss architecture and design specifically about their new school building. Some of the ideas that the group considered will be added in the building.

For example, the first floor will include a large-scale mural built and designed by students its dimensions are as tall as eight feet.

Its main entrance will be on the south end of the building facing the campus’ current school at 6420 S. University Ave.

The main level of the building will have a college expo center. College and career fairs will be hosted in the space on the main level. A college counseling space will be placed alongside it and it will have resources for students to conduct research and complete online applications.

Also, included on the main level are the cafeteria, gymnasium [which will double as an auditorium], a dance studio, and multi-purpose room.

The multi-purpose room [950 square foot] is designed for athletic teams and physical education classed that will use the space for weightlifting and exercise.

The cafeteria aims to fit 250 students per lunch period. Traditionally, students are mixed up among grade levels during lunch periods it creates a way for upperclassmen to engage with younger students, Jones said.

Warren said the cafeteria would also feature floor to ceiling windows with “decorative film with messaging. Students will be able to look out into the street, but people on the street will not be able to see into the building.”

The messages on the windows, he said would be interchangeable

The cafeteria is also one of many spaces in the school or on school property on that will open to the community.

The biggest room in the school, the gymnasium will also function as an auditorium. All the cultural events for the school will be held inside.

“One thing schools never have enough of are spaces for events and activities this will be another opportunity to have a space for the community,” Warren said.

Students according to Jones would use the space each morning to carry on their school-wide ritual each school day, to recite their creed.

The gymnasium will also include a screen and sound system and is yet another space for members of the community to gather and host events.

The room, according to Warren, can fit 850 people.

The Dance Program at the school will have a studio on the first floor. UChicago offers African Dance, Ballet, and hip-hop. The Majorettes and pom-pom teams will also use the space to rehearse, and it also includes a dressing room.

The second floor is designated for UChicago Charter’s middle school program. It will have 13 classrooms, a science lab, and a media room that will be used by middle and high school students.

The third floor is set for high school students there are 18 classrooms two science labs on the floor, as well as an engineering lab.

The engineering lab will be the space for the school’s STEM program.

“The school will be introducing 3D printers and the technology,” Jones said. “When we [students] have different projects we will be able to blueprint it through the 3D printer we can see how the structure works.”

There will be space between classroom doors and lockers that will allow students who want to work independently or in small groups.

They will be able to brainstorm and list ideas on whiteboards that will be installed outside classrooms on both the middle and high school floors.

Another grand feature of the building is its rooftop greenhouse where students and the community will have access.

The greenhouse overlooks the future athletic field on the back end of the building. The school has a garden now at its current building site will transport the garden over to the greenhouse.

U. of C. Woodlawn’s athletic field will include two goal posts as well as a walking track which is also open for public use.

The field will be used for outdoor sports teams such as football, soccer, and softball.

Though Jones is graduating this spring and will be gone before construction is complete, he said that he is excited for his peers that will have a brand new school.

“I’m happy but jealous, but I will still maintain a relationship with the school,” Jones said. “I will be able to see and experience the new building.”

The new school is expected to be complete by the end of this year and will be open for classes in January 2018.

t.hill@hpherald.com