After an extensive master-planning phase that evaluated the school’s existing 46,000 sf facility, educational program and several adjacent sites, Rogers Park Montessori School decided to build a 13,000 sf addition on their current site.
In order to implement the masterplan, several areas of the existing red-patterned classroom building where reorganized and renovated. The green-patterned gymnasium volume has been transformed into a state-of-the-art flexible theater. While continuing to be used as an athletic facility, the gymnasium’s renovation payed close attention to acoustics, lighting and color, thus fulfilling the client’s desire to optimize the space for each function without sacrificing the other functions. The first floor of the new addition provides a covered drop-off lobby and a completely day-lit music room. The second floor contains most of the new program space: offices, library, dance studio/after school program and the innovative adolescent program. After an intensive design charrette working closely with the staff, students and administration, the adolescent classroom is conceived as a flexible, single classroom zone for 60 students and faculty. We developed an immersive multi layered learning environment where every surface and corner supports the dynamic Montessori teaching philosophy.
As one moves from the original precast building and deeper into the site, the school program progresses in age and experience. A ramp skirts past the green gym/theater volume, culminating at the end of the facility in the adolescent program zone and roof-top learn/play area. The sequence of spaces symbolizes the progression of the children’s academic life in Montessori school and beyond.
“Touch the ground lightly” is an aboriginal saying adopted by Glenn Murcutt and the Australian sustainability movement. This project couldn’t be further from the Australian outback but it utilizes many of that movement’s principals in the design: Platform and Parasol, daylight utilization, high insulated exterior wall and minimal site impact. Since most of the new addition’s program is on the platform there was minimal impact to the existing site. Most of the addition is dedicated a multi-valent learning environment for the Montessori school’s Middle School program. This space required extensive acoustical study because of the proximity to the adjacent train tracks, roof top activity area and flexible learning spaces. Acoustical baffle and absorption panels are strategically located to control sound transfer. The centrally located group presentation space is designed with a high performance acoustic barrier ceiling to prevent noise transfer from the roof top activities. Under the parasol roof the school’s outdoor educational actives season can be extended to two-thirds of the school year. The ground level below the programmatic platform provides a new covered student drop-off area, sheltered parking (meeting zoning requirements), and a covered program area for school events and fundraisers.
The addition is delicately woven into a 3d composition that takes advantage of all the opportunities to maximize the use of the existing site and building.
The design team made every effort to minimize energy use and go beyond the energy code while planning the addition. The primary mechanical system is a series of prepackaged roof top units. The designer chose to use demand- control ventilation and two-stage supply fans. These features allow the RTUs to operate more efficiently by allowing the RTU to operate at reduced capacity when the building is not at peak design conditions which is most of the time. Although these aren’t flashy features, they offer tremendous energy savings. In addition, RTU-1,2,4,5,6, and 7 have a required EER of 11.0, and a specified EER of 12.0. RTU-7 has a required EER of 13.0 and a specified EER of 15.0.
Results from our ComCheck show the envelope performance is 7% better than code, the interior lighting is 2% better than code and the exterior lighting is 48% better than code.
The Site is located near several public transit lines. A major commuter train line abuts east property line. Rail line locations - UP-N Union Pacific 0.8 mi, Red Line 0.9 mi and Brown line 1.0 mi. Bus lines 50 Damen, 22 Clark & 92 Foster have stops within 0.3 miles of the site.
On-site parking is based on 1 space per 3 employees. A high percentage of employees live in the city and use public transportation. Once the project was complete, the school expanded the bicycle parking in response to the growing number of teenage students. There is a Divvy (shared bicycle) station located 1.0 mile from the site.
The site has a Walk Score of 85, Transit Score 62 & Bike Score 93.
Since the addition was below the minimal requirement for site disruption. The water management was handled with 1,300 sf of intensive green roofing and 2,200 sf of permeable site pavers.
Most school’s primary flooring choice is VCT. The installation cost is minimal and the material is durable with intensive maintenance. The existing Montessori school was no exception. VCT tiles cover all the hallway and classroom floors. In the new addition, the team specified low maintenance flooring products. A combination of carpet tiles and Nora rubber tiles are use throughout the addition. Both flooring systems are highly recyclable and easy to replace when damaged. Carpet tiles offer several additional sustainable attributes; comfortable walking/standing surface, dirt/allergens are trapped in the nylon treads and reinforces and an additional acoustic surface.