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 2013, the Lab Schools opened Earl Shapiro Hall, designed by Valerio DeWalt Train and FGM Architects, which brought together the Laboratory School's nursery, kindergarten and primary grades. The state-of-the-art facilty features 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 Laboratory Schools. 

​In 2015, the Laboratory Schools opened the Gordon Parks Arts Hall, which strengthens programs in theater, music and the visual arts with three new performance halls, new studios and rehearsal spaces. A dedicated media lab has allowed Lab to offer new courses in filmmaking. These new spaces align well with Lab’s approach to education by supporting a renewed emphasis on “learning by doing,” allowing students to experience the artistic process firsthand.