Its lockers shoehorned into classrooms and lunchroom relegated to a basement, 66-year-old Orchard Place Elementary School shed its mid-20th century origins with a program calling for an addition, partial demolition of the existing structure and renovations to remaining portions of the facility.

The resulting structure appears entirely new, united by a rain-screen facade and combinations of stone veneer and precast concrete. The addition's scale and proportion mirrors those of neighboring houses and remaining portions of the existing building.

Consistent use of color and finishes within promote a seamless transition between new and renovated spaces. Social zones and small breakout spaces throughout the facility support spontaneous, dynamic activities.

The project was undertaken with sustainability in mind. In addition to daylighting, Orchard incorporates CO2 sensors, fluorescent down-lighting, occupancy sensors and variable-air-volume boxes to cut energy consumption.

Work was performed while classes were in session, prompting development of a phased construction plan, beginning with erection of the addition behind a wing of the building slated for demolition. Faculty and students vacated the wing once the addition was complete, allowing for construction of parking and drop-off lanes after the wing was demolished. Renovations to remaining portions of the facility occurred during summer months.

Due to the phased nature of the program, students and faculty occupied two separate buildings during certain periods, necessitating construction of a canopy between the two to protect occupants from the elements. Prior to its construction, team members verified the canopy was capable of withstanding snow loads.

Crews erected fencing to regulate access between new and existing buildings. The project barred construction traffic during student drop-off and pick-up periods.

Orchard Place Elementary School Additions and Renovations, Des Plaines, Ill.

Key Players

Owner Des Plaines Community Consolidated School District 62, Des Plaines, Ill.

GC Wight Construction, Darien, Ill.

Designer Wight & Co., Darien, Ill.