ECHO Educational Enrichment Center & Dr. Debra Parrish-Hooks Administrative Center

South Holland, Illinois


JMA Architects


ECHO Joint Agreement


99,735 sq.ft.

Total Cost


Completion Date


Design Team
Jim Maciejewski (Principal Architect); Wayne Babiak (Architect); Edvin Mertdogan (Architect)

The ECHO (Exceptional Children Have Opportunities) Educational Enrichment Center & Dr. Debra Parrish-Hooks Administrative Center is a specialty educational facility that serves special needs individuals from kindergarten through 21 years of age. The facility is run by the ECHO Joint Agreement, a cooperative of 17 school districts in the South Cook County region of Illinois.

The facility houses six specialty programs:
• (ABLE) Adaptive Behavioral Learning Environment Program: serves students who have needs related to autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disabilities or who are experiencing issues with verbal and nonverbal communication, social interactions, sensory processing/regulation and academic progress.
• (CD) Communication Development: serves children who have speech or language deficits that interfere with their educational achievement in a general education setting.
• (DHH) Deaf and Hard of Hearing: serves students who have mild to profound hearing loss.
• (EASE) ECHO Academic Skills Education Program: serves students who have multiple complex disabilities, including cognitive, language, physical, health or vision needs.
• (FEP) Family Enrichment Program: serves at-risk expecting parents and families by providing early, continuous, intensive, and comprehensive child development and family support services focusing on increasing self-esteem and academic achievement.
• (PACE) Providing Alternatives For Continuing Education: serves students with varied behavioral, emotional, and academic needs by providing a therapeutic, emotionally safe environment geared toward increasing self-esteem, reinforcing socially appropriate behaviors, and achieving academic success.

Each of these programs had been housed at various schools throughout the districts and had to change locations about every three years. With a goal of creating stability and continuity, the challenge was to bring six independently functioning programs, with strict requirements, into one building.

JMA worked with each program team to develop an overall building program. The design goals:
• Providing educational space that maintained each program’s autonomy and functionality while taking advantage of the efficiencies and synergies of a central facility.
• Designing flexible space arrangements that would provide safe and effective educational environments for the diverse student population.
• Using land owned by the cooperative to situate the new facility near the existing ECHO School.

The result is a two-story facility that provides each program area with a “school within a school.” Common areas, such as cafeteria, gymnasium, and media center, are used by each program, and specialists unique to each program have dedicated space within that program’s block. Flexible conference and small group areas are available for all to use. The team can bring all students together or maintain their individuality. The result is the forming of a cohesive community that provides the desired safety, stability, and continuity.

Additional Information

Associated Firm

Millies Engineering Group; McCluskey Engineering; WT Engineering



Cost per Sq Ft


Featured in

2022 Architectural Portfolio



Interior category

Administrative Areas/Offices

Product suppliers specified

Carpet by Mohawk Commercial Carpet
Flooring by Armstrong World Industries
Brick/Masonry by Meridian Brick
Cabinets by TMI Systems Design
Ceilings by USG
Ceramic Tile by Dal-Tile
Doors by VT Industries
Elevators by Canton Elevator
Insulation by Owens Corning
Movable Partitions/Walls by Modernfold
Paint/Wallcoverings by Sherwin-Williams
Plumbing by Charlotte Pipe & Foundry
Roofing by Johns Manville
Skylights by Kingspan
Windows by Pittco
Emergency Lighting by Lithonia Lighting
Lighting & Accessories by Lithonia Lighting
Fire/Life-Safety Systems by Edwards Systems Technologies
Security Systems by Bosch Security Systems
Acoustics/Sound Systems by AmTab Mfg
Classroom Furniture by Artco Bell
Library/Media Center Furniture by Artco Bell
Multipurpose Areas Furniture by AmTab Mfg
Office Furniture by HON
Childcare Furniture by Artco Bell
Drinking Fountains by Elkay
Hand-Drying Equipment by Excel Dryer
Washroom Fixtures by Bradley Corporation
Washroom/Shower Partitions by Hadrian
Bleachers/Grandstands by Interkal
Athletic Equipment by Performance Sports Systems (PSS)
Scoreboards/Clocks by Nevco Scoreboard
Communications Systems by Telecor
Clocks/Time Management by Telecor
HVAC Units by AAON
HVAC Control Devices by Johnson Controls
IAQ Devices by Johnson Controls
ADA/Compliance Equipment by ASSA ABLOY
Lockers by Lyon Workspace Products
Whiteboards / Markerboards / Chalkboards by Claridge
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