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Gads Hill
Early Learning Center

Chicago, IL, United States

Established in 1898, Gads Hill Center is a non-profit youth education and family resource center located in Chicago. They currently serve families in the neighborhoods of Pilsen, North Lawndale, and Little Village by providing learning support and educational enrichment, early childhood development, and out-of-school care for children. More simply put, their mission is to create opportunities for children and their families to build a better life through education and access to resources.

When Gads Hill Centers expressed an interest in expanding their services in the neighborhood of Brighton Park, JGMA jumped at the chance to be part of making their dreams reality. Early in the process, we helped to identify and evaluate existing, unutilized structures with the potential to become their new Early Learning Center. When an existing building on the corner of S. Archer Avenue and S. Whipple St. was selected as the final location, we eagerly worked to create a bold new vision as expressive and empowering as the client.

The existing building, having been cobbled together over varying decades, is a patchwork of dissimilar brick and styles. At some point in the past, an adjacent building had been built over the property lines, resulting in sections of the property that are only accessible from the neighboring businesses. How does one begin to untangle the challenges of so much “organic” development? We began by embracing the eclectics of the existing facades, unifying them into a backdrop to which we insert a fun pattern of projected, box-windows. The new windows create an exterior expression of the carefree activities happening inside.

Now, this new Gad’s Hill Center facility serves as a unique learning environment for infants and toddlers of Brighton Park. It serves as an example of how an existing building can be reused and transformed to positively impact a community.


  • Architecture Masterprize 2021

  • AIA Chicago Design Excellence Awards 2021

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