*Filmmaker George Lucas and his wife, Mellody Hobson, are donating $25 million to The University of Chicago Laboratory Schools that will pay for a new arts hall to be named after late photographer Gordon Parks.
Set for a 2015 open on the schools’ Hyde Park campus, the 86,000-square-foot Gordon Parks Arts Hall will support programs in theater, music and the visual arts with three new performance halls, studios, rehearsal and practice rooms, a digital media lab, and more.
The Hyde Park campus has about 1,800 students in nursery school through 12th grade.
Hobson and Lucas insisted that the new building be named in honor of Gordon Parks, the iconic African American photographer, writer, film director, musician, and social justice advocate.
Parks first came to Chicago at age 17, in 1929, where his first-hand experience of urban life for African Americans during the Depression helped shape his worldview. A later stint in Chicago helped launch his photography career in earnest, and some of his most recognizable images were captured here.
“We believe in the power of art to transform lives and communities,” said Lucas. “Gordon Parks’ work did just that. Keeping his example at the heart of one of the nation’s outstanding urban schools will serve to inspire future generations for many years to come.”
“It was important to us that the University of Chicago campus have a building named for an African American, given the diverse community in which it sits, and the outstanding contributions to our society by people of color,” said Hobson.
Hobson is president of the Chicago-based Ariel Investments. She married the “Star Wars” filmmaker in 2013.