Bark House


Project: Child’s Play

Product: Poplar Bark Shingles and Interior Wall Treatment, Custom Fabrication

Architect: Larry Kearnes, AIA, Principal of Wheeler Kearnes Architect, Chicago

Location: University of Chicago Childcare Center

Child’s Play – An Urban Day Care At The University Of Chicago Draws Inspiration From The Natural World

Larry Kearnes, AIA, Principal of Wheeler Kearnes Architect: Featured in gb&d magazine

 “’Bark House siding is constantly drawing attention’… noting that people ‘always want to come up and touch it’.”

“The Chicago-based firm knew it was competing with architects from across the world.  He wanted something more timeless, more meaningful…  The facility which serves 124 children…offers the chance to interact first hand with the world… [O]ne of the most eye-catching examples of this philosophy is the poplar bark siding used both on the exterior and inside the center.  Crafted by North Carolina based Highland Craftsmen…

‘This project centers around children.  How best to nurture a child with real things they can touch, feel the texture, the depth, the honesty of the raw material?…All of these elements in the play area [encourage] the interrogation of the natural world, from the child’s point of view.’”

An interesting side note about historical context is that the child care center was inspired by the closely adjacent Jackson Park.  Closely adjacent to our facility lies Biltmore Estate.  Both were designed by America’s Landscape Architect, Frederick Law Olmstead.  Olmstead had a deep appreciation for natural order and was a key figure in the early conservation movement as well as and the formation of US Forestry policy.

Awards: USGBC Emerald Award / Green Building Innovation; AIA IL Honor Award Frank Lloyd Wright Award for New Design or Renovation, Bronze Award; National AIA/CAE Educational Facility Design Excellence Award; USGBC Building Chicago / Greening the Heartland Education Program; Chicago Architecture Foundation Patron of the Year, Nominee.


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534 Oak Avenue  ♦  Spruce Pine  ♦  NC 28777


Architectural Record and Regenerative Business AWARDS Verify Our Deep Commitment to Whole-Buildingbark-house-recycles-poplar-bark-products

"Quality is not a goal here… It’s a way of life."

Marty McCurry