FGM Architects, with offices in O’Fallon, Ill., recently completed work on a new K-12 school for West Washington County Community Unit School District 10 in Okawville, Ill. With construction now complete, all students and faculty will start the fall semester in the new facility.
The district, faced with the challenges of aging facilities and declining enrollment, opted to consolidate facilities to increase efficiencies. The district considered green field sites for new facilities, but found that the best approach was to use the existing junior/senior high school site as the basis for renovation and new construction, FGM Architects’ project manager Art Hayhurst says.
The new K-12 center replaces the existing elementary school and junior/senior high school. The project was constructed in two phases on the site of the existing junior/senior high school.
“The elementary school was on a different site, so they were able to continue using the elementary school until construction completed this summer,” Hayhurst said. “All grades will be in the new school this fall. The junior/senior high school moved into phase one of the new school in the spring of 2012.”
Coordinating the various elements of the renovation, new construction and relocation of students and faculty was a challenge, he adds, but everything went smoothly due to support from the school board, superintendent, staff and construction team.
The center brings together 13 grade levels under one roof by designing the space to provide for distinct grade level areas. All grade levels will share the central library and cafeteria. Athletic facilities and the community-shared spaces are adjacent, enhancing access for community members attending events or activities at the school. The school also serves as the district headquarters with superintendent offices and updated administrative areas.
FGM retained some components of the existing building, such as the Luechtefeld Gym, by wrapping older components with new construction. Looking at it from the outside, says Hayhurst, you would never know that some of the areas inside were much older. Another example of flexible design is the stage between the Luechtefeld Gym and the multipurpose cafeteria, which is usable from both spaces.
FGM also oversaw construction and developed the furnishings and interiors for the new spaces. The elementary school features color schemes that engage the youngest learners. Secondary and tertiary colors were prominent in the junior high and high school areas.
FGM reused furniture where it was appropriate, and brought in ergonomic and progressive furniture in new spaces. FGM’s interior designer, Peggy Hoffmann, paid special attention to the library, which all students and the community use. Hoffmann made sure to adapt areas within the library to serve its youngest students and community patrons alike. This approach made for design that was both budget-sensitive and that took advantage of new technology.