South Middle School

Arlington Heights, Illinois

  • FIRM



    Arlington Heights School District 25

  • AREA

    146,878 sq.ft.





Arlington Heights School District 25 wanted to upgrade and expand the existing middle school—a series of additions to a 1920s building designed for a junior-high program. Ceilings in the additions were low, corridors were circuitous and narrow, and MEP systems were outmoded. The district’s evolving middle-school program was constrained by the architecture. Function was ADDITIONAL INFORMATIONCAPACITY900COST PER SQ FT$108.66FEATURED IN1998 Architectural Portfolio1998 Educational Interiors to fit form.

The architects audited the building, prepared cost data, and brainstormed design alternatives with the board and community members. The decision was made for a replacement building on the same site. Many design meetings were held with staff and community members to assure that both program and community needs were met.

The three-story academic wing, which is divided into two five-section teams, allows each grade level to have its own floor. In addition, each floor has support spaces and a unified arts program. Another unique feature is the resource space in each team area for smaller, independent-study groups for team or grade-level projects.

Middle-school programs require a large-group instruction area for grade-level or team meetings, performances and a variety of academic purposes. The multipurpose room was designed for dining and group instruction, as well as performing arts. A fourth PE space was added to avoid programming conflicts.

The academic wing’s axis was rotated from the balance of the building to reduce the length and travel distances. Stairs at each end of the wing reduces congestion and improves access to program spaces. Stairs at the north edge of the three-story academic wing are much wider to accommodate heavier use.

The building’s primary entrance is strongly identified by its distinct canopy and pylon like tower, which houses mechanical equipment. The curved wall of the administrative spaces and library draws visitors visually into the main entry, while each functional area has a unique architectural identity. The multipurpose room’s arched roof emphasizes this important space. The curved space is repeated in both the entrance canopy and gymnasium roof. Strong horizontal brick patterns and fenestration visually reduce the height of the building.

Photographer: ©HNK Architectural Photography