Elmwood Park High School Addition & Remodel - Elmwood Park, Illinois
DLA Architects, Ltd.
Posted: October 26, 2023 | Projects
The existing aging and deteriorated science labs of Elmwood Park High School demanded a renovation; the real challenge arose from a series of meetings the architect held with the Board, Administration, and staff. It was determined that massive changes were needed in order to better serve the District’s vision of 21st century education. The resulting addition was essentially a single learning space with flexible labs and small group spaces that are open to a Flex Learning Corridor.
Photograph courtesy of Alexander Romanovsky/DLA Architects, Ltd.
Designed for next generation science standards, the addition blends core ideas and concepts across science disciplines; the labs are virtually interchangeable between disciplines (Earth and Space Sciences, Physical Science, Life Science, and Chemistry).
First floor labs feature translucent “garage doors” that open directly to the Flex Learning Corridor – the main arterial corridor. This corridor breakout space is a large lab designed to increase student interaction and collaboration. It was designed with open, two-story “drop-zone” volumes for experiments related to gravity or projectile motion.
Distance markings on the floor enhance experiments related to resistance and friction. The lower level of the lab is one foot lower than the existing level – creating a ramp for experiments. The layout of the labs with direct access to the Flex Learning Corridor allows for simultaneous use within relatively close proximity, encouraging the blending of core ideas.
The curriculum calls for students to engage in peer-to-peer learning and for outside “experts” to be invited to participate in projects. The Amphitheater facilitates these activities. The acoustics allow a lecture or discussion using a normal speaking voice without amplification. In the amphitheater, custom-made cold cathode light fixtures form molecular structures.
While most of the addition’s furniture is movable for flexibility, two of the Labs contain fixed-lab stations with water and gas connections. Dedicated lecture space was eschewed in favor of group lab stations that encourage student collaboration and feature motorized countertops to switch between standing lab configuration and seated test taking/lecture mode.
Second floor labs are equipped with fume hoods to accommodate volatile experiments in each of the labs. Three science prep rooms allow for chemical storage and two ancillary experimental spaces are provided for staff collaboration and experiments.
Independent/itinerant study spaces, complete with white board and pin-up area, provide an additional venue for group learning, research, presentations, and project display. Two of these are further equipped with water and gas for students to conduct problem-based learning projects. This accommodates the advanced prerequisite requirements for top universities; students learn organizational skills, leadership skills, and how to work in a group. To further showcase learning, these rooms are visible from the corridor.
DLA Architects, Ltd.
2 Pierce Place, #1300, Itasca, IL 60143
Pease Borst & Associates, LLC
18 Executive Court, South Barrington, IL 60010
Mechanical & Electrical Engineer
Berg Engineering Consultants, Ltd.
801 W. Wise Road, Schaumburg, IL 60193
W-T Civil Engineering, LLC
2675 Pratum Avenue, Hoffman Estates, IL 60192
Construction Manager & Cost Estimator
International Contractors, Inc.
977 S. Route 83, Elmhurst, IL 60126
Location: Elmwood Park, Illinois
Date Bid: Feb 2014
Construction Period: Jun 2014 to Aug 2015
Total Square Feet: 31,630 Site: 1.35 acres.
Number of Buildings: One; 6 classrooms, seating for 224 students, amphitheater.
Building Sizes: First floor renovation, 11,430; second floor renovation, 4,600; renovation total, 16,030; First floor addition, 8,300; second floor addition, 7,300; addition total, 15,600; project total, 31,630 square feet.
Building Height: First floor, 10'11 1/2"; second floor, 16'; total, 34'4".
Basic Construction Type: Addition/Renovation.
Foundation: Cast-in-place, pier & grade beam, reinforced concrete, slab-on-grade.
Exterior Walls: CMU, brick, curtain wall.
Roof: Membrane, built-up.
Interior Walls: CMU, metal stud drywall.