Matteson School District 162 was in need of a performing arts facility as their 70-member chorus was practicing in the hallways of the school. The goal of District 162’s arts initiative is to prepare the students to be well-rounded artists and creative humanitarians as they move on to college and life beyond. Fine arts are important for all students because they develop students’ literacy and critical thinking skills, help close achievement gaps, increase students’ likelihood to graduate, and make them appealing to as applicants to colleges and universities. 75% of Southland Preparatory Charter High School students are involved in the performing arts programs, which include drama, visual arts, choir, and band. ARCON was responsible for the design, planning, development and construction management of the High School Performing Arts Center. The 5,216-square-foot addition will primarily be used as a band room and will also accommodate the school’s choir as well as provide space for its speech and forensics team. The new building is added to the east wall of the school and will replace a parking lot.
The one-story, steel-frame addition will be 37 feet tall at its highest points. The new performing arts center will accommodate 203 musicians, which is more than twice the capacity of their existing band room. Two sound isolation rooms for small group practice will be included in the design as well as storage space for instruments of all sizes. The interior will include an acoustical roof system to absorb sound and reduce echo as well as acoustical hanging clouds.
Southland Prep marks the first free public charter school in suburban Chicago. Dr. Blondean Y. Davis, Superintendent of Matteson School District 162, was instrumental in conceptualizing the unique school, which places an emphasis on innovation, community involvement, collaboration and high academic standards for all students.