People are learning in new and evolving ways throughout the world and, as such, the definition of the word “school” is radically changing. The Center for Architecture, Design and Education (CADE) is a building that not only reflects the way we acquire and share knowledge, but also creates an environment that is accommodating to future possibilities. STUDIOS believes traditional correspondence between a classroom, an academic subject, and a strict time schedule has evolved. The familiar hardware of learning environments is no longer sufficient for knowledge transfer. Therefore, STUDIOS posed the question: what does the future of learning look like, and how do we provide the space for it?
To avoid creating separate and designated spaces for each of the four major programs—the Chicago Architecture Foundation, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, Design Allied Arts High School, and Out of School‑Time Youth Programming—STUDIOS made delinations and identities secondary to the production of a dynamic mixutre of programs throughout the building. Spaces pass through each other and form symbiotic relationships that allow the whole to be much greater than the sum of its parts. A 24-hour learning hive pulses with energy and activity, radiating innovation through cross-pollination.
The result is a design for CADE that is an informal arrangement of stacked, reservable learning volumes designed for an abundance of spatial variety: terraces, overhangs and in-between spaces that can be used by students, staff, and the public alike, all in ever-changing manners. It was critical to balance consideration of the exterior and how it fits into the fabric with the internal spaces and the experience of the many users. As users ascend through the programmatic spaces there is an evolution from large flexible open space to smaller focused learning areas that allow students to find an intimate scale of enclosed and in-between spaces to study alone or in small groups.
Working outside-in and inside-out simultaneously informed the porosity of CADE and its intricate section. This variation in density of space and activity forms a conical shape in section with the point at the base of the tower. At the ground level the building has a minimal presence allowing the rest of the footprint to be activated by the public. STUDIOS understood that the connection between CADE and other cultural institutions is imperative to its relevance in downtown Chicago. The large flexible and public spaces are the way in which CADE reaches out to those institutions, breaking down the traditional boundaries between institutions so that the downtown area itself becomes the school.