Laboratory Schools

Laboratory Schools

Completed: 1896
Architect: James Gamble Rogers
Renovated: 2001
Architect: Nagle Hartray
Address: 1362 E 59th St
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The Laboratory Schools provide progressive education to students from nursery school to 12th grade.

Founded in 1896 by philosopher John Dewey, the Lab Schools were designed with a view to their effect on children. Dewey's approach to childhood education utilized a sense of community and spontaneous discovery, which architect James Gamble Rogers translated into architecture of substantial symmetry and restrained complexity.

By the 1920s, the Lab Schools had entered a golden age in which new structures went up, reflecting the schools’ confidence and pride. The Chicago firm of Armstrong, Furst and Tilton endowed Sunny Gymnasium, built in 1929, with a luxuriously carved Gothic design—a sign that the Lab Schools, identified with the University. Charles Hubbard Judd Hall, designed by the same firm, represented one of the two most delicately detailed Gothic revival buildings on campus. These flourishes came, perhaps ironically, just as the University’s love affair with all things Gothic was in its final throes.

In 2012, the Lab Schools began construction on a new Early Childhood Campus, a major renovation and expansion project steered by Valerio Dewalt Train Associates and FGM Architects. The architects are charged with maintaining and enhancing the architectural traditions of the schools, while promoting the best educational climate and demonstrating environmental sustainability. The first phase of the project, Earl Shapiro Hall, willopen in fall 2013. The Architects designed the state-of-the-art facility specifically for use by children in nursery through second grade, with direct outdoor access from classrooms; indoor spaces suited for a range of simultaneous activities; and thought-provoking settings that enhance the flexible interactions at the heart of education at the Lab Schools.