Sited 40 miles north of Chicago, Beach Park Middle School captures the essence of its unassuming suburban locale by simultaneously nestling into its sloping topography and embracing the limitless horizon. This new middle school also demonstrates that ingenious design can be achieved even when the mantra is “frugal and effective.”
The straightforward design eased CAPACITY1,200COST PER SQ FT$101.00FEATURED IN2004 Architectural Portfolio on construction and opened the opportunity for eight traditional classrooms and an additional gymnasium module. Giving the impression of a one-story building complementing its surroundings, much of Beach Park is two stories, providing sunlight to a subterranean space. A skylight, clerestory, corner glazing and a transparent link between the functional areas of the building bring light everywhere.
Undeniably, the most prominent feature of the school is the library/resource center. The two-story, light-filled library serves as a link between the public spaces and academic classrooms. Enclosed by an exterior glass wall, this space offers a pleasant view of the adjacent wetlands and playing fields. To the north of the library/resource center, an impressive two-story space functions as a breakout area for shared spaces, such as art and music, and the gymnasium. The central location of this community space allows the academic wings to be blocked off after hours, providing separation of public and private spaces.