Crow Island School, Environmental Master Plan

Winnetka, Illinois

The Crow Island School was the first to “break out of the box” and spread its “wings”—the grandfather of all open-plan campus schools.

It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has been called the “most significant school building in the past 100 years of architecture” by the AIA. When funds ran short in 1938, landscape plans were not executed. ADDITIONAL INFORMATIONCITATIONSpecial CitationFEATURED IN2003 Architectural PortfolioSUB CATEGORYLandscape landscape, courtyards and outdoor classrooms remained unfinished.

An environmental master plan was conceived in which the whole school—building and grounds—would be a classroom.

Research included interviews with original design team members, and Crow Island alumni and schoolteachers. The designs addressed courtyard classrooms just outside each classroom, a restored schoolwide council ring and a restored outdoor amphitheater. Today, students maintain the 18 courtyards and participate in outdoor programs.

Landscape features include mega maps on hard-surface gathering areas, orchards, various gardens, a paleontologist “dig,” and a Potawotomie summer camp—the outdoor equivalent of the school’s indoor pioneer room.

“Strong project-based learning approach using outside spaces to reinforce learning.”--2003 jury