West Chicago ESD 33 expressed the need to update their existing libraries in order to provide student spaces that aligned with the district’s 21st Century Curriculum. The district also began incorporating STEM into their curriculum, and required an additional support space. The existing library at Turner Elementary School did not support these visions, and was the first school in a phased district plan to receive renovations. ARCON assisted the district in the design and construction of the Innovation Center and STEM Lab which helped expedite the construction process, provide the owner one direct contact, and enable quick resolutions to design and construction related questions.
Existing, centralized columns, were removed and a new structural system was implemented in order to provide an open, flexible environment. Ceiling clouds, and accent colors were used to designate different zones within the Innovation Center such as formal group instruction, informal presentation, and a quiet reading. A movable partition separates the Innovation Center and the STEM Lab allowing the spaces to operate as two separate entities, or combine as one space for large group instruction, presentations, professional development or board meetings. Floor-to-ceiling marker boards were incorporated in the STEM Lab providing areas for instruction, and “on-the-fly” brainstorming. Several Smart Boards and projector screens were placed throughout both spaces to allow for maximum flexibility. In an effort to highlight the new-and-improved space, the Innovation Center entrance was opened up to create more visibility and invoke curiosity, and a built-in bench was incorporated to encourage occupants to grab a book, and enjoy!