UNO Soccer Academy challenges the education paradigm in Chicago. For many years,
education buildings were designed to feel like fortresses as opposed to welcoming
environments that encourage interaction between users and communities. UNO Soccer
Academy is a perfect example of education-centered development,which creates a new
momentum within a city that inspires optimism and encourages future development
in its neighborhood. Our primary focus on the UNOSoccer Academy was to inspire education
instead of creating spaces that make students feel incarcerated.
The UNO Soccer Academy opened in September 2011, creating the first link of a
soccer-focused master plan developed by United Neighborhood Organization (UNO).The
innovative design and school program represents anew and progressive approach to
education. The building stands as a shining beacon for the community in the Gage Park
neighborhood of Southwest Chicago. Through means of a strong curriculum supplemented by
the culturally embraced sport of soccer, community outreach programs, and intelligent design,
students as well as residents of the predominantly Hispanic neighborhood are engaged in
active roles in their education.
The architectural design is inspired in part by the educational development of the students.
The building grows out of the ground, symbolizing the growth of a child, where programs such
as learning theaters,administrative components, and classrooms envelop a central soccer
field courtyard. Essential developmental programs including a fitness center and resource
library progress the movement of the building gradually upward.Finally, the building
culminates in a community center that frames views of the Chicago skyline, inspiring students
and neighboring residents to achieve their potential.