Metea Valley High School
Design Achievement - Indian Prairie School District 204 is one of the largest school Districts in Illinois and historically one of the fastest growing Districts in the country. DLR Group's design for Metea Valley High School alleviates overcrowding at the high school level and gives students a personalized learning environment. Four academic "think tanks" (consisting of administrative and guidance offices, student resource rooms, conference rooms and teacher planning centers) flank the central media center and surround outdoor courtyards. Decentralized science labs in each wing provide program flexibility to accommodate a variety of academic models. By locating these specialized rooms throughout the four core areas, the school can be organized by grade level, variety of department types, or into small learning communities. At the core of the academic wing is a 12,680 SF media center. This space together with checkout computer labs, forum rooms and a technology lab delineates two enclosed courtyards that draw natural light into the building.
Scope Summary - The scope of this project was a 464,200 square foot comprehensive high school to provide advanced educational spaces for 3,000 students. Distinct core instructional areas organized in two wings are supported by administrative offices and teacher planning centers, student lockers and resource areas, and vertical circulation. Outdoor courtyards provide secure outdoor gathering space and, along with high ceilings and clerestory windows, bring natural daylight into the school. DLR Group provided architecture and interiors services.
Orientation and organization
Orientation of the building on the site optimizes the quality and quantity of natural light into the building. The utilization of high ceilings and clerestory windows allows hallways to be naturally lit, provides opportunities for interior spaces to borrow natural light, and highlights the simplicity of way finding.
Means of way finding is reinforced by zoning the building according to use. Spaces that support physical, intellectual, and artistic uses are collected into three distinct areas of the building. Additionally, simple, straightforward layout of corridors, including outdoor covered pedestrian bridges that connect academic wings, create a circular means of travel within each pod and can be seen throughout the building.
The learning environment
One of the design parameters required a self-contained freshman center to be separated from grades 10-12 yet still physically connected. The design also required the flexibility to support a multitude of teaching/learning concepts such as school-within-a-school, multi-grade level houses, or block scheduling.
To support the core instructional areas, within each wing is a unique consolidation of administration offices, student lockers, vertical circulation, teacher planning centers, and resource areas creating a “think tank” type environment for academic exploration, tutorial, and socialization.
A 30,000-volume media center, forum rooms, and check-out computer labs connect the two wings. The spaces that make up this connection are flanked on each side by two courtyards. These courtyards expose the building’s core to natural light, allow for secure outdoor dining, create an interior sculpture garden, and provide southern exposure for a greenhouse and rooftop garden.
Additional features of the learning environment include:
- Separate student locker commons associated with each of the four learning areas.
- Controlled access and building zoning emphasizing safety and security for multiple school and community functions.
- Separation of activities and performance areas with their own support spaces.
- Media center is very visible to main entrance lobby and all learning areas.
- Classroom distribution and configuration is adaptable to various options of curriculum organizational models.
- Classrooms are positioned to minimize travel distances to all points of the building.
- The design supports an option period in the schedule for students to collaborate with other students and staff outside of the classroom.
- Full-service auditorium and support spaces are convenient to music, art and shop areas
Another main priority was that the new high school be equitable with the two other high schools in the district. As such, amenities include a 750-seat competition pool; 2,800-seat competition gym; a competition stadium to support football, soccer, lacrosse, and track; competition baseball and softball fields; and 12 tennis courts.
Energy efficiency and sustainability
DLR Group worked with the client to achieve high benchmarks in energy efficiency and overall sustainability in design, construction, and operations. The Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation awarded Indian Prairie School District #204 a $135,000 grant to incorporate energy efficient and sustainable building features. Strategies implemented include:
- An energy model of the design demonstrates the building design maintains a target to be 19 percent more efficient than required by ASHRAE 90.1.
- A daylight harvesting system automatically turns off lights in public spaces as exterior lighting levels change throughout the day. This system is projected to save the district $21,032 annually with a payback of 6.6 years.
- Demand control ventilation has been designed into the mechanical system in the gymnasiums, auditorium and other large lecture spaces. These systems have an initial cost of $10,000, with estimated annual savings of $5,000.
- Energy recovery wheels are designed into the air handlers above the classroom wings. The initial cost of $70,000 is projected to save the district $15,000 annually, paying for itself in 3-4 years.
- High efficiency boilers cost $10,000 initially, but can provide $5,500 of savings to the district each year.
- Rain gardens surround the parking lots planted with local, non-invasive plants to mitigate storm water pollutants.
- A rooftop greenhouse, equipped with drip irrigation, a motorized roof sash for ventilation and motorized shades, provides enhanced educational opportunities.
- The greenhouse control system allows students to collect weather and temperature data for enhanced learning opportunities outside the classroom.
Don Erickson Presidential Award
Association of Licensed Architects (ALA)
Gold Medal Award
Association of Licensed Architects (ALA)
Learning By Design magazine
American School & University magazine
Chicago Building Congress