The Hoover-Schrum Memorial School District 157 community overwhelmingly supported the passing of a referendum for a replacement middle school by a 74% to 26% favorable vote. ARCON facilitated a series of community consensus building workshops leading up to the successful vote, identifying the community’s vision for their new school, and the important role it will play in supporting and representing the entire community.
Themes that emerged from the community workshops include supporting evolving educational trends with a variety of flexible learning and collaboration spaces, a focus on the individual learner before, during, and after school, connections to the outdoors as an educational asset, a focus on STEM, science, art, music, student safety, and the availability of public areas of the building for after-hours community support.
Visitors enter through the welcoming center into a two-story lobby space filled with north light. A wide learning stair allows the lobby to double as a student presentation space and flexible teaming and collaboration area. Thoughtful planning places the STEM lab in a prominent position immediately across the lobby from the school’s main entry. Visitors are treated to views through a glass wall into the two-story STEM lab space and an outdoor learning area beyond.
Public vs. private, and quiet vs. noisy zones are organized along an east-west “student street” main hallway, allowing grades to travel to lunch, PE, Music, Art, and STEM without passing through or disrupting other grades. Each grade level learning center wraps five flexible classrooms, a science lab, and a teacher professional development space around a project area / teaming commons. Folding glass walls open the science lab and a classroom to the project area. Direct connections are created between each project area and outdoor learning spaces.
The Library and Art room are located on the north of the student street, close to parking, allowing opportunities for after-hours community use. The project digitally preserves a student painted, 50-foot long mural, from the existing building’s main hallway, depicting the history of the original school and including signatures from visiting Tuskegee Airmen. The digital mural will be suspended as a sculptural object within the high volume of the library. Tall, north facing windows provide views of student art work and the mural to cars and pedestrians passing by the community’s new school.