Chicago Commons, Paulo Freire Family Center

Hitchcock Design Group was sought out by Chicago Commons to transform their existing playground into a Nature-Based Play Environment that encourages learning through play and supports the Reggio Emilia approach for early learning. Hitchcock Design Group led the design team, including staff and administrators from Chicago Commons, through a master planning process to define the program and learning outcomes for the space. The Master Plan defined separate age-specific play areas for the 184 children whose ages range from 8 weeks to 7 years. Key elements in the area include an outdoor classroom with stump seating, raised wood stage, climbing boulder, embankment slides, outcropping stone, wood cookie steppers, and grassy knoll. “Loose parts” play is encouraged through the use of items such as wood blocks, sticks and seeds. A winding loop path serves as a tricycle track and encompasses a central lawn for running and for large gross motor activities. The space is also used after school and summer programs for school-age children.

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Cee Cee Hodgson

“Their work comes with a level of empathy with the user to say ‘it’s more than plants. How can this be an uplifting space? How can this invigorate someone?’ That’s different. That’s unique.”

Cee Cee Hodgson
Lead Architect–C.C. Hodgson Architectural Group

Tim Brennan

“What keeps coming back to me is their willingness, their ability, and their responsiveness to help manage the situation at hand.”

Tim Brennan
Senior Associate/Retail Practice Area Leader, Gensler

Doug Sampson

“They’ve earned our trust. They listen to us and come back with solutions that really meet our needs. They let you start to dream …”

Doug Sampson
University Architect/Director-Missouri State University

Jim Basala

“Hitchcock thinks beyond straight lines and 90-degree angles.”

Jim Basala
COO, Lake County Parks & Recreation Dept.

Craig Phillips

“One of Hitchcock’s strengths is the amount of work they put in when they’re getting to know a community. They show you they really understand the issues your community is considering. They’re very thorough in their approach. It’s clear they’ve done their homework.”

Craig Phillips
Town Manager, City of St. John

Jonathan Kubow

“Hitchcock goes out of their way to make sure they’re responsive, helpful, and doing things that aren’t necessarily their responsibility. They’re just all-around quality. Any project that I do going forward they will always, always be included in my RFP, whether it’s city or suburban.”

Jonathan Kubow
Development Manager, Lennar Multifamily Communities

Mike DeRouin

“With Hitchcock, I felt like they really went above and beyond, and they’re extremely responsive. They take more of a leadership role, which is helpful, especially with a complicated project.”

Mike DeRouin
President, FitzGerald Associates

Patrick Lyons

“They work in a very collaborative manner in discussions and presentations. They make sure you fully understand it. If there are any questions at all, they can help you with it.”

Patrick Lyons
Director of Construction-Advocate Healthcare

Ann Ziegelmaier

“Communication, creativity, meeting timeliness, meeting institutional expectations; we’re not an easy client. Hitchcock goes out of their way to work with us.”

Ann Ziegelmaier
Landscape Architect-Northwestern University

Steve Gulden

“Some architects will just say ‘how dare you!’ but Hitchcock encourages changes. Relationships and creativity is what it boils down to—it’s why I like them the best and what sets them apart from others.”

Steve Gulden
Village Manager, Village of Romeoville