Suburban high schools achieve advanced science/classroom environments while covering opposite ends of the aesthetic spectrum
Two strikingly different styles of architecture characterize the recent science and classroom additions at Glenbard West High School (Glen Ellyn, Illinois) and Mundelein High School (Mundelein, Illinois). The former, featuring a warm, brick-dominant traditional exterior, not only advances Glenbard West’s science programs, but also honors the Collegiate Gothic style of the 100-year-old school. Conversely, Mundelein High School’s addition, with its metal and glass façade, is a contemporary facility that establishes the school as a regional leader in STEM education and workforce preparation. Despite these aesthetic differences, both additions display sophisticated interior environments that enrich their schools’ curricula.
Both additions (designed by Legat Architects) achieved recognition at the 2017 Joint Annual Conference of the Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB), Illinois Association of School Administrators (IASA), and Illinois Association of School Business Officials (Illinois ASBO). The event’s Educational Environments Exhibition (EEE) included the Glenbard West and Mundelein additions among the 25 Illinois school projects on display. The EEE applauds Illinois school district construction projects for design that meets 21st century education needs while achieving energy efficiency and safety.
The Mundelein High School expansion was also one of only three projects that received an “Award of Merit” for outstanding educational design. A “blind” jury of architects and superintendents judged the awards entries.
This year, the Chicago-based Joint Annual Conference drew nearly 10,000 attendees including Illinois school district superintendents, board members, and other leaders.
Glenbard West High School
The 28,800-square-foot addition and 12,500-square-foot renovation at Glenbard West respond to overcrowding, consolidate the school’s science department, and encourage learning outside the classroom. Science lab design allows everything from cross-curricular collaboration and student-driven projects to research and one-on-one instruction. The renovation also vastly improved wheelchair accessibility.
- Eight new biology and chemistry labs
- Glass-enclosed stairwell unites addition, leads to green roof
- Three-story glass bridge organizes addition, connects to existing structure, and reflects nature and surrounding buildings to become virtually invisible
- Addition enhances visual arts curriculum with photography room, digital editing room, and traditional dark room
- Arts courtyard accessible from classrooms gives students outdoor area to sculpt, sketch, or paint, and displays outdoor furniture crafted from trees
- Addition organizes support services around indoor loading dock and houses mechanical equipment used to provide air conditioning throughout the existing building
- Old labs repurposed into larger classrooms
A large hill plays an important part in Glenbard West High School’s identity—its sports teams are even called “Hilltoppers.” Functional needs helped decide where the addition would be placed, but stepping down the hill helped minimize the addition’s impact. All trees and plants were cataloged and many were relocated prior to construction.
The Walsh Group was the general contractor for the Glenbard West expansion.
Mundelein High School
Mundelein High School’s 55,000-square-foot addition enabled local business partnerships, university mentoring opportunities, and community outreach programs. Windows along the first floor corridor display a STEM lab, a Project Lead The Way lab, and a “Business Incubator.” Flexible classrooms and labs occupy the second and third floors.
- Addition designed as a teaching tool—labs display mechanical systems, while corridors feature an exposed structural system with tile bases.
- STEM lab offers chemistry islands, movable worktables, and a “Think Tank” where students gather for multimedia presentations.
- In the Project Lead The Way (PLTW) lab, perimeter computer stations and mobile worktables allow students to build machines controlled by software that they create.
- STEM and PLTW labs share a machine lab, a locker room, an interior window, and a courtyard for outdoor experiments.
- Business Incubator immerses students in an authentic corporate environment with access to multimedia tools.
- Glass-enclosed conference room with views to a courtyard sets the tone for student meetings with local business leaders and university mentors.
- Second floor classrooms open to breakout space that expands for events.
A “travel corridor” within the Mundelein addition uses black tiles that reference tiled feature walls in the existing facility. The corridor creates a curving connection between the commons and the expansion. The travel theme extends up a main stair that unites the addition’s three levels, then culminates in the “experiment balcony.”
The construction manager for the Mundelein High School addition was IHC Construction Companies.
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