Leman Middle School

A successful referendum in the fall of 2010 allowed the school district the opportunity to improve the educational environment for students at all grade levels. The district’s elementary schools were experiencing overcrowding. Rather than address each of the building’s growth issues independently, the school board and administrators decided to integrate the 6th grade students into the district’s middle school program.

The building is designed to handle the district’s 1,500 6th, 7th, and 8th graders currently, with a core infrastructure capable of accommodating 1,800 students. The existing building site was large enough to accommodate the 153,400 square foot addition while allowing the complete reconfiguration of existing site traffic patterns.

Building features include separate 6th, 7th, and 8th grade wings designed with four houses each. Each house contains four core classrooms, a science lab with prep room, a special education classroom, a gifted/intervention classroom, student break-out areas, a small group instruction area, and a student facilitator office. New administrative offices are located at the new main entrance to the building. Adjacent is the new library and staff development room, which will double as the board room, as well as public community meeting room. The new gymnasium, with boys’ and girls’ locker rooms, is designed to accommodate spectator seating of 750. A cafetorium includes a stage with theatrical rigging and lighting, as well as ample storage for both lunch tables and chairs for performance seating. The space can accommodate 750 spectators for performances and 600 students for lunch with a full-service kitchen that will also handle the food preparation and distribution for the entire district.

As part of the renovation of the existing building, the 6th grade wing was carved out of existing classroom space and designed to include the same amenities as the new 7th and 8th grade wings. A new exploratory wing, including band, orchestra, and choral rooms, was created in the area where the existing cafeteria was once located. In order to accommodate adequate volume and appropriate acoustics, the roof of this area was removed and raised 10 feet. The scope of work also included the replacement of existing mechanical systems throughout the building, as well as the central heating and cooling plant.

The school is equipped with state-of-the-art science labs, including prep rooms. The prep rooms are equipped with Isimet control stations that allow teachers full control of all utilities (electrical, gas, water) students can access at their workstations throughout the day. This teacher control helps prevent students from misusing these materials. A panic button is also equipped in each prep room, allowing teachers to quickly shut off all access to utilities should an emergency occur. The fire alarm system is tied in to each Isimet station so that in the case of fire, all electrical, gas and water lines in the science labs are closed.

The district required that the middle school still be able to safely operate while the building was under construction. Extensive critical path scheduling was done to phase work over the course of two years. In order to provide the district with maximum control of the project from start to finish, the architect also performed the construction management duties. This was unique in that it helped expedite the construction process, provide the owner one direct contact, and enable quick resolutions to design and construction related questions. The construction manager was available every day to provide extensive on-site observation and quick response time to any issues that were raised.

Sustainable Features

  • Low flush wash fountains and lavatories, reducing the need for domestic heated water
  • Use of occupancy sensors to help reduce operation costs when spaces are not being utilized
  • Classroom spaces are zoned individually to maximize temperature control and individual comfort new and replacement lighting has been provided with high efficiency/cost effective T8 fixtures with acrylic lenses to improve the lighting throughout the entire building
  • Materials specified have low VOC content (paints, sealants, adhesives, primers)
  • Base-board radiation units are provided as supplement to the VAV system. During off-hours in the heating season, the air handling units can be shut down, saving significantly on fan energy


West Chicago ESD 33


West Chicago, IL


153,400 SF Addition / 63,000 SF Renovation

Grades / Capacity

6-8 / 1,800 Students

Construction Manager

ARCON Managers, LLC


August 2013


IASB Educational Environments Exhibition / Learning by Design - Outstanding Project