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Gray Children's Center @ Spertus Institute Jim Lasko & Odile Compagnon, designers - 2008


Gray Children's Center @ Spertus Institute

Interior Architecture projects are often a work of talented compromise, this one, on the other hand required skills that resembled those of a conductor, listening to all the voices that collaborated to its success:

One traditional Jewish story says that at the origin of time, the world and everything that it includes (the stars, the sun, the moon, the animals and the plants) were created using the 22 Hebraic letters. The story also says that once ALL the different letter combinations will be made (in words, sentences, stories), the world will be perfect.

-Museum Director who wanted the exhibit's message to be clear and permanent. -Program educators for whom the architecture needed to work like a text book. -Artists whose work was the essence of the project. -Children whose questions about our universe needed to be staged. -Building architects who wanted to to be assured that the interior installation would reinforce the spirit of the edifice.

It is this alphabet and all the stories that it allows to tell that this center celebrates. The project for the Gray Children’s Center at Spertus Institute, consists of 14 interactive stations composed within a 3200 square foot space on the 4th floor of the Spertus Institute, facing Michigan Avenue, Grant Park and the Lake Michigan, in Chicago. This permanent installation was designed in collaboration between Jim Lasko, Designer and Artistic Director of Redmoon Theater and Odile Compagnon, Architect.

Composing with these voices lead to an harmonious micro cosmos where all the elements: -View over Grant Park from the faceted glass facade. -Building envelope. -Exhibit Narrative. -Interior Details and Materials. -Space Composition. are totally in tune and seem to have come together magically. The result is a true rendering of our own macro cosmos where the sleek architecture of the Spertus Building designed by Krueck and Sexton sings with the creative, man made pieces of the Redmoon Theater artists. Here the children and their care givers can apprehend the questions raised by our universe and be inspired to find their own answers.


The harmony of the space is best expressed in the letter design that covers the wall of doors and drawers. Here the strict geometry of the letters plays with the hand carved pictogram from which it originated.


14 interactive exhibits around a dynamic topography play with the architecture of the building. The facets of the East facade over Michigan Avenue are brought all the way to the Center's entrance with the sheer entrance maze.


Located on the fourth floor of the Spertus Institute building, the center opens to the East. The central topography around which all the exhibits are organized, seems to continue outwards, over Grant Park to the Lake Michigan.


Aleph Bet Wall - A treasure is revealed behind each door and each drawer.


Seven Days of Creation - With this Toy Theater visitors turn cranks and push levers to recreate Genesis


Aquarium and Cloud Ceiling -The Lower Waters meet the Upper Waters


Within the 360 degree aquarium, visitors hear tales of how the waters came to be.


The Kinetic Ball Sculpture gives out inspiring words.


The Rope Tunnel takes one through the clouds


The materials, the colors and the construction details make reference to various part of our universe, some ethereal, some earthly, they help create spaces within the space. From left to right: etched plexiglass around the aquarium, rubber flooring topography, sheer fabric in the entrance maze


GRAY CHILDREN’S CENTER CONCEIVED AND COMMISSIONED BY SPERTUS MUSEUM, SPERTUS INSTITUTE OF JEWISH STUDIES, CHICAGO. Rhoda Rosen, Director, Spertus Museum Dr. Howard A. Sulkin, President, Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies Generous support provided by Joyce and Avrum Gray and their family GRAY CHILDREN’S CENTER DESIGNERS Jim Lasko, Redmoon Theater Artistic Director Odile Compagnon, Architect

REDMOON THEATER ARTISTIC STAFF Frank Maugeri, Associate Artistic Director Vanessa Stalling, Associate Artist Rebecca Hunter, Producing Director FABRICATION SVI Themed Construction Solutions, Inc. WALL OF DOORS AND DRAWERS A magnificent floor-to-ceiling wall reveals hidden artistic creations for each letter of the alphabet. Dave Beaupre, letters S and T Jesse Bullock, letters E and K Kass Copeland, letters F, L, Q, R, and Y Angela Erickson, letters B, H, N, V, and Z Christopher Furman, letters D, J, and P Casey Gunschel, letters A, G, M, and U Tom Robinson, letters C, I, O, W, and X Alexander Skoirchet, font design

BIG BLOCK VIDEO AREA Whimsical characters – created by the Redmoon Theater team and brought to life by noteworthy actors – dramatize each letter and enlist children to participate with stories of their own. PERFORMERS Rengin Altay Kasey Foster Allen Gilmore Judith Lesser Lindsey Noel Whiting Vanessa Stalling Jay Whittaker Yuri Lane Directed by Jim Lasko. Written by Mickle Maher. Costume Design by Tatjana Radisic. Video Animation by Livui Pasare. Sound Design by Mikhail Fiksel. Project Management by Jason Ribando. Video Production and Editing by Image Base. SOUND INSTALLATIONS Entrance Sound Installation by Mark Messing with the voices of local children. Aquarium Sound Installation by Mikhail Fiksel with water stories by Antionio Sacre and Beth Horner. Skydome Sound Installation by Mikhail Fiksel. MECHANIZED TOY THEATER Chris Burnham and Frank Maugeri ROLLING BALL SCULPTURE Eddie Boes MATERIALS Dazian Glasssheen Fabric Procedes Chenel Drop Paper Ceiling TPV Rubber Flooring Incord Rope Tunnel


Jim Lasko, Designer. Odile Compagnon AIA, DPLG Architect.


Gray Children's Center @ Spertus Institute in Chicago  

Presentation of the permanent childrens exhibit at Spertus Institute in Chicago

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