In the spirit of what Maria Montessori called "an education of the senses," the Ann Reid Early Childhood Center was designed to stimulate children's curiosities and imaginations while awakening awareness of their natural surroundings. Every opportunity is created to maximize the useable square footage for educational purposes. As such, corridors are lined with floor-to-ceiling tackable surfaces to display student art work and announcements. Rotating spelling blocks are positioned around structural columns in each corridor and bench seating is inserted at strategic locations through-out the facility to foster impromptu breakout activities. The exterior walls of each instructional room are configured with casework that serves as storage while simultaneously framing views to natural habitats developing in the adjoining rain gardens.

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A learning village.

To help children feel at ease, the school was conceived as a "learning village" comprised of four educational neighborhoods that connect to each other via communal areas that provide opportunities for interaction. The corridors, or neighborhood "streets," are populated with various instructional wall surfaces and built-in manipulatives.

The school is also designed to engage children with the natural environment. Its numerous windows provide an abundance of daylight, creating a feeling of openness and establishing a direct connection between the indoors and outdoors. In the instructional spaces, windows along the lower walls give children an up-close view of the perimeter landscaping, which features rain gardens with indigenous plants.


2011 Finalist, New Construction under $15 Million, Chicago Building Congress

2010 Award of Distinction, Excellence in the Design of Educational Environments, Illinois Association of School Boards