• PHOTO BY GEORGE LAMBROS
  • PHOTO BY GEORGE LAMBROS
  • PHOTO BY GEORGE LAMBROS
  • PHOTO BY GEORGE LAMBROS
  • PHOTO BY GEORGE LAMBROS

Upgrading infrastructure and expanding educational spaces at an existing school to improve building efficiencies.

North Elementary School
Des Plaines CCSD 62
Des Plaines, IL

The Des Plaines School District hired Wight & Company to provide design-build services for the renovation and expansion of North Elementary School.  The project scope included upgrading the school’s infrastructure with new mechanical systems and controls, electrical service and distribution upgrade, a new fire sprinkler system and addressable alarm system, and an upgrade to the entire plumbing system. The project was one component of a three-phase, $109 million, District-wide “Renaissance” of 11 school facilities focused on meeting the growing needs of the Des Plaines School District.

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Project Details

Interior renovations relocated the main entrance to the front of the building and reconfigured the cafeteria area. Additional space was created by adding a second floor structure in a high bay area allowing for increased square footage without expanding the building footprint.

Site work consisted of developing detention areas relieving flooding in the building due to its proximity to the Des Plaines River and that the site is located in a flood plain area.  Parking was improved and dedicated parent and bus drop-off areas were separated and enhanced.

Prototypical Design

While each of the 11 schools included in the District-wide “Renaissance” enjoyed new educational environments that critically supported a broad curriculum and a variety of learning/teaching styles, a prototype for a unique supportive space type was developed in response to new-found space efficiencies. Newly captured space at several schools, including North, was converted into technology-rich, flexible classrooms called Technology Integrated Learning Environments (T.I.L.E.s).

T.I.L.E.s were conceptualized to serve as “living laboratories” where students and teachers could experiment with different technologies, furniture options, and teaching approaches before implementing them district-wide. A driving force behind the use of T.I.LE.s was to make classroom media easily available to students. Furniture must be agile and the overall spaces should be accommodating to active learning styles and techniques.

T.I.L.E. spaces were designed to include smart boards, integrated hand-held device technology, floor-to-ceiling marker boards, tackable wall surfaces, and a variety of casual, mobile and ergonomically correct furniture.