Past winners

Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Award for Architectural Excellence, 1st Place

"A Disciplined Life" is the motto of Perspectives Charter School, founded 12 years ago by former public school teachers Kimberlie Day and Diana Shulla-Cose. That they live as well as espouse the motto is evident in the school’s newly constructed building on Chicago’s near South Side.

Designed by Ralph Johnson, FAIA, of the architectural firm Perkins+Will, the beauty and ambition of the new building underline what the school can accomplish for its students. It includes state-of-the-art science and computer labs, a research library, a cooking kitchen for the school’s healthy meal program, and two floors of spacious classrooms.

Built on a triangular site at the intersection of Archer Boulevard and State Street, near both the elevated train and bus routes, the location itself speaks to the school’s commitment to open enrollment, the use of the city as a classroom and its determination to better the lives of both students and the surrounding community.

The facility is designed to feel like home for users of diverse ages. Workspaces and classrooms are simultaneously comfortable and stimulating, featuring natural light and bright colors. Large common areas facilitate community and communication, while offices, small group areas, and classrooms permit teachers, students, and staff to work intensively without disruption.

The open-core building is centered around a lofty, daylit space called the “Family Room,” overlooked by second floor balconies. Understanding the relationship between daylit classrooms and test scores, the long axis of the building is oriented east/west and affords all classroom spaces north and south exposure.

The majority of the exterior skin of the school is corrugated metal. The material choice was driven by economy and context, appropriately echoing the area’s industrial past.

For designing a building and surrounding grounds that provides a striking anchor for redevelopment of this historic and ever vibrant urban center, Perkins + Will for the Perspectives Charter School is the winner of the 1st Place Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Award for Architecture Excellence in Community Design.