Joliet Central High School Celebrates Grand Opening of Student Center and Galleria

Wight & Company (Wight) will join Joliet Township High School District 204 students, parents, teachers, administrators and elected officials this evening to celebrate the grand opening of a major addition to Joliet Central High School. This 43,000-square-foot addition features a three-story glass curtain wall façade that leads into a bright and inviting student center. Beyond that is a spacious, open plan cafeteria that can seat up to 600 people for events. The focal point of the addition is a soaring structure of tubular steel that defines a collaborative space for students where they can study, socialize and access student services.

Joliet Township High School District 204 officials chose Wight, which has designed several other key buildings for the district since 1999, to create the new addition. Key objectives for the project team were to add an expansive student center, a larger dining facility, multi-purpose areas, and an elevator to improve ADA accessibility at the downtown Joliet campus, which serves approximately 3,200 students.

“The architecture team envisioned a space that would serve as the heart of the school, connecting the new with the old,” explains Kevin Havens, director of design for Wight. “The atrium design features elements of the Collegiate Gothic style of this landmark building, but does so in a modern way that is both light and airy,” according to Havens. Key elements of Wight’s design for the addition include:

  • A freestanding tubular steel structure of arches that allows the roof to soar 50 feet above ground
  • Cleaning and restoration of an existing Joliet limestone wall that now serves as an interior wall of the student center
  • A limestone-clad elevator structure that connects all levels of the school
  • A student services center where students can access technology support and Abri Credit Union services, get tickets for school events, buy school supplies and order yearbooks
  • Wight’s Tom Roth, who served as project manager and senior designer, says the addition will serve as the new front door to the school. “We heard time and again from residents that they see Joliet Central as a beacon for the entire community,” explains Roth. “Our design is a physical manifestation of that idea,” according to Roth. “At night, the three-story atrium glows like a lantern, serving as a shining example for the community of Joliet.”

“This addition is about preparing us for the future,” according to Superintendent Dr. Cheryl McCarthy, “but it was also very important to us that this new building maintained the historic feel and flow of our campus. The design accomplishes both just beautifully. It literally takes your breath away. I can’t wait to see the faces of our students tonight.”

Groundbreaking on the project, which was shaped by a significant amount of community input, took place in May 2014. Construction was completed in several phases. Wight served as the designer and architect of record for the project. Wight also provided structural engineering, MEP engineering, interior design and landscape architecture services. Gilbane Building Company provided construction management services.