Elsie Johnson Elementary Innovation Center

The elementary school was not meeting current educational standards, so the community pushed to bring the facilities up-to-date. ARCON’s challenge was to create a new identity for the school through a complete modernization of the main building entrance, administration areas, and converting the dark and underutilized library into a bright, collaborative learning environment for students, staff, and community members.

The new office and reception area have been relocated, and security checkpoints have been added, so that visitors can no longer access the school without being invited into the front office. The new front entrance has two security vestibules requiring visitors to enter through three levels of access controls through the use of card readers, electric strikes, and audio/video devices.

The Innovation Center reflects a design with flexibility, openness, and the creation of various spaces for collaboration, as well as individual learning, to meet the needs of 21st Century educators and students. The main library has been separated into several areas in order to cater to different learning styles. Adjacent to the main library space is the Think Tank, a classroom where kids can meet in smaller groups, or receive instruction away from the primary library space. An operable glass partition allows this space to adapt from a quiet learning area, to an open collaborative space.

The existing library, which falls in the center of the school’s floor plan, provided no natural lighting, creating a dark and uninviting space. In order to overcome this, we designed a 20’ x 30’ skylight to be installed in the middle of the Innovation Center. This provides soft diffused natural light. We have removed the traditional ceiling and exposed the structure to give openness to the space. New drop-ceilings and floating clouds have been carefully placed to allow students to find shelter, as well as give visual weight to the meeting areas throughout such as the Critical Thinking Area, Communication Area, Collaboration Lounge, Think Tank, and Circulation Desk.

The main focus and drive for the Innovation Center was to create an exciting and nurturing environment for students to learn, collaborate, and grow in a myriad of ways. Whether they prefer to lounge on soft seating, sit at a more formal table, or collabor


Carol Stream CCSD 93


Carol Stream, IL


800 SF Addition / 9,000 SF Renovation

Grades / Capacity

K-5 / 352 Students

General Contractor

Northwest Contractors, Inc.


September 2015


IASB Educational Environments Exhibition - Honorable Mention