SOS Children's Village Lavezzorio Community Center
Donated materials lead to innovative exterior concrete design.
Set on a donated sliver of land between two elevated train lines in Chicago’s South Side, the Lavezzorio Community Center in the SOS Children’s Village makes both a visual and actual connection between the village’s housing complex for children to the south, and the Auburn-Gresham neighborhood to the north.
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The Lavezzorio Community Center opened in 2007. Its purpose is to reunite siblings in foster-care families, provide housing and services for those families, and offer educational enrichment and activities for families. The building’s program includes family counseling offices, after-school program space, a daycare, administrative offices, a recreational room, an exterior play area, and a multi-purpose community room that serves the residents of the SOS Children’s Village housing development, as well as the adjacent neighborhood.
The limited budget for the two-story, 16,800-square-foot project led to unconventional applications of ordinary materials. Many in-kind material donations, such as concrete, were utilized to complete the building. The large striated exterior concrete wall was created in an unprecedented use of cast-in-place concrete.
The mix design for each successive pour includes Portland cement mix, fly ash, and slag-aggregates. The horizontal layers appear like strata in rock. Structurally, the tiered concrete walls created strength within each layer, making cantilevers possible.
Carefully positioned large-scale glazing provides vistas to active program areas, both inside and out. The second floor community room windows overlook the streetscape below, with its townhouses with turrets, and orange and white broadcast tower. On the ground floor, a corner opening creates the primary entrance on Parnell Avenue. It faces centralized green space and village homes.
A wide staircase in the lobby doubles as classroom seating and an impromptu stage for performances. The entwined stairs crisscross the lobby and connect to the large community room and computer lab on the second floor. Their geometry and scale, intended to activate the space, acts as a giant three-dimensional jungle gym for children to navigate.
Formal name of project: SOS Children's Village Lavezzorio Community Center
1212 N. Ashland, Suite 212
Chicago, IL 60622
Gross square footage: 16,800 sq. ft.
Total construction cost: $3.5 million
Completion Date: October 2007
SOS Children’s Villages Illinois
Studio Gang Architects
1212 N. Ashland Avenue, Suite 212
Chicago, IL 60622
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