In 2005, we helped Shelley Torres Aldeen accomplish her goal of starting her own Montessori school. The Montessori approach to education emphasizes a dynamic relationship between children and their environment. This project for the Gateway Montessori School on Chicago’s northwest side began with the premise that the child’s environment is their first teacher. We designed the build-out of half of a one-story commercial building into classrooms, office space, kitchen and restrooms. Two years later the school had quickly outgrown its space and Shelley invited us back to complete the renovation of the first floor with two additional classrooms and restrooms. The work was carefully phased and organized to accommodate the school’s budget and schedule. Completed in collaboration with Jack Bransfield.