Following an ARCON led Master Facility Planning process, and pre-referendum effort that led to a 74% YES vote, Maercker School District 60 embarked on a significant addition and renovation project at their PreK–2 Primary School.
Planning responded to priorities identified during the MFP process including the community’s desire for an expanded PreK program, all-day kindergarten, and the elimination of the open classroom concept in the 1st/2nd grade wing. A 32,000 square foot, two story addition allowed PreK to move out of the mobiles it was previously housed in to expand the program to 3 classrooms, added a multi-purpose indoor assessment space and soft play-scaped enclosed courtyard, and expanded the kindergarten program from 2 1/2-day classes to 5 full-day classrooms with modern amenities.
The addition also provided the opportunity to relocate the second grade into new spaces on the second floor of the addition. This relocation allowed for a 10,000 square foot renovation of the former 1st/2nd grade wing, expanding the 1st grade and eliminating the wing’s former open classroom configuration.
The addition and renovations provide the opportunity for expanded 1st grade classrooms that no longer have to negotiate noise volume with adjacent classrooms or the hallway, and a minimization of cross-grade circulation disruptions.
Being a building that caters to early learners, the district wanted to design identities to help create visual cues for easily directing young students to their classroom. Color designations were applied to the accent flooring outside and inside the classroom, cubbies, and door frames. Large room numbers next to each classroom entrance allowed for further identification and wayfinding purposes. Windows were thoughtfully placed at various heights, including ground level, creating pockets for early learner students to crawl into, and observe the outdoors at eye-level.
At the heart of the building, the multi-purpose room features large, two-story windows which allow lighting from the courtyard to make its way in to the interior of the building. Colored boxes, with bench seating running underneath, naturally create nooks inside the multi-purpose room, as well as in the second floor corridor, allowing for viewing and assessment without distraction. The multi-purpose room serves as an assessment space, an additional breakout space for classrooms, and an assembly space for large gatherings. The multipurpose room is also directly connected to an outdoor courtyard, which is used for additional assessment space, and play.