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Independent schools are special places. Their distinctive values and educational philosophies create a culture unique unto themselves. This resonates perfectly with Sheehan Nagle Hartray’s situational approach where individual design solutions are favored over universal treatments. Through research, observation and extensive dialogue we acquire both a cognitive and emotional understanding of your community’s values and culture. We combine this empathetic understanding with best practices and innovative thinking to design learning environments that go beyond the expected to capture what is truly special about your school.
Three projects described below for the Latin School of Chicago epitomize our situational design. The programmatic challenges addressed are common to all schools, but the design solutions are elevated to embody the singular character of the Latin Community.
Upper School Lobby
The design of the Upper School Lobby is about connecting – to the students, to past and present traditions, and to the neighborhood. Large portions of masonry exterior walls were replaced by acoustic glass to engage the neighborhood and flood the space with natural light. A block long Latin orange wall is a unifying element that proclaims the Latin identity and transitions the Lobby through multiple floor levels. Traditions such as the Latin Song and current achievements are celebrated throughout. Formality has been replaced by flexible, student-centric spaces that encourage informal interaction and community. Seamlessly integrated into the design are new security, life safety and accessibility measures to resolve longstanding issues inherent in the original building design.
Upper School Science Center
The LEED Gold Certified Upper School Science Center is a STE(A)M driven design with technology forward classrooms to facilitate a flipped, pedagogy-first approach to education. Classroom are designed for active experiences where students learn through inquiry, application and assessment. To increase student interest in the sciences, an experiential forum concept was developed in conjunction with the faculty. The resulting Science Forum features interactive exhibits to engage students in basic scientific concepts and current applications as well as perspectives into the beauty and complexity of the natural world.
“It is a space that invites and encourages exploration, creativity, collaboration and conversation, and has actually inspired the faculty to become better teachers.”
-Steven Coberly, Science Department Chair
Middle School 5th/6th Grade Suite
The Middle School Building is a “school without corridors.” Each floor is organized with perimeter classrooms around an interior court rather than along linear corridors. The interior court serves as a gathering space that fosters student socialization, grade level activities and special events. This planning concept organizes the Middle School into separate, developmentally appropriate 5th/6th and 7th/8th grade suites and allows the younger students to benefit from the variety and challenges of a middle school curriculum in combination with the shelter and comfort of a lower school setting.