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

Celebrating, rather than masking, a historic school’s age through a sensitive and consistent renovation approach.

South Elementary School
Des Plaines CCSD 62
Des Plaines, IL

The Des Plaines School District commissioned Wight & Company to provide design-build services for renovations and additions to South Elementary School. The South Elementary School 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

As one of the oldest schools in the district, built in the late 1920s, our renovations centered on modern learning but maintained the character of the historic structure. South Elementary was a multi-level facility with a half basement and two upper levels that  awkwardly connected to a two-story gymnasium and Library Media Center addition constructed at ground level.  A number of “improvements” over its history made access into and throughout the facility a challenge for those students and staff members with physical limitations. In fact, two-thirds of the facility was inaccessible by current ADA standards.

We mitigated these circulation and accessibility challenges by “surgically” installing an elevator next to the central stairway, and providing a new entry stair/ramp/planter configuration by the relocated main entrance. Classroom spaces were moved from the lower levels to the main floor, and mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire protection systems were updated to reflect current code requirements. Technology Integrated Learning Environments (T.I.L.E.s) were included in the renovated facility to support collaborative, project-based education. The award-winning project sets a new standard for high performing learning environments.

Awards & Recognition

  • 2012 Award of Merit, Excellence in the Design of Educational Environments, Illinois Association of School Boards