The United Neighborhood Organization (UNO) was founded by community leaders and local Priests, whom possessed a grassroots approach to leadership within Chicago’s Hispanic neighborhoods. Their core concept of serving, empowering, and educating Chicago’s low income immigrant population continues on at UNO where the teaching extends beyond the classroom. Through unique life experiences, culture, and sport, the curriculum grows outside of the typical school environment to fully engage the surrounding community. This approach of grounding the school into the community is exemplified in the Elementary School design concept. Responding to the unique site constraints of residential access to the east, industry to the north, parking lot to the west and railroad to the south, the building grows from the site context reaching out to the community and inviting them in.
With the core concept of UNO’s community involvement reaching beyond the classroom, a new way to bring a natural social interaction between student, teacher and community is implemented. The natural curving of landscape and building creates an intimate courtyard that would bring the community and school functions together into one harmonious space. Stadium seating following the growth of the landscaped topography and facing the courtyard, is introduced to provide a spectator area for softball games, soccer games, graduation events, outdoor movie theater, and numerous other activities.