West Ridge Elementary School is one of five new prototype elementary schools in Chicago to open in the Fall of 2010. It is an outstanding example of the urban school district’s commitment to providing its students and their families with high quality instruction, outstanding academic programs, and comprehensive student development support to prepare those students for the challenges of the world of tomorrow. That commitment includes, among other things, providing the optimal learning environment, which translates to durable, healthy, sustainable, community focused, safe, usable buildings.
Designed to achieve USGBC’s LEED for Schools Silver rating, this building maximizes student, staff, and community exposure to day-lighting and good air quality while achieving optimal acoustics for an ideal learning and working environment. It is constructed of high quality, easily maintainable materials which are projected to last 100+ years. In addition to a large extensive green roof, the building features two large water storage tanks to harvest rainwater which can be used to water the outdoor student-maintained bio-garden and study sustainable water usage in the classroom.
To enhance the personality of the school and provide educational elements, the lengthy corridors were fit with artistic custom designed terrazzo floor patterns. The three themes include a timeline tour of American Presidency from George Washington to Barack Obama, the never-ending non-repeating mathematical constant value referred to as “pi” (π), and an engaging scale version of the planets orbiting the sun in our solar system. Each floor pattern was developed for use as a teaching tool, captivating the minds of students and teachers alike.
A large, open-airy library with expansive glazing is a noticeably graceful cornerstone anchoring this new school in the West Ridge neighborhood. A solution to overcrowding of two area elementary schools, West Ridge Elementary is welcomed by its neighbors to enhance the flourishing ethnic community and serve as a new focal point for after-hour neighborhood functions. With a capacity of over 900 students, the school is widely anticipated to be one of the top schools in the public school system.