In purchasing 425 Dempster, a historic 1898 structure designed by Daniel Burnham and leased from the City of Evanston for 30 years, Chiaravalle Montessori became free to make modifications to better support their program. In replacing a two-story 1949 gymnasium annex, CMS seized a rare opportunity to design a Montessori building for their Montessori program. The new North Wing Addition transforms 21st Century Montessori learning into built form, embodying Maria Montessori’s concept of free activity within a “prepared environment” tailored to specific characteristics of children. The 19,000sf addition’s layout focuses on human-centered design, serving as a central hub connecting spaces throughout the school.
The design team applied insights from first-hand interactions with students, staff, and parents, to achieve a design solution that eased transitions, supported student independence, and welcomed families. The addition features a spacious main entrance, parent cafe and adjacent central gathering space (The Hub) that strengthen school/community sense by providing comfortable spaces for parents, teachers, and students to gather, educate and perform. A drama studio and another movement and music studio expand the school’s creative and performing arts offerings. The new gymnasium – twice the size of the original – accommodates multiple activities and school functions simultaneously. A centrally located library, Think Tank, Global Learning Lab and Da Vinci Workshop integrates art and design with the study of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The project also includes 8,100sf of renovation, comprised of a second-floor student transition space and former library, which was converted to teacher resource space.