Sunset Ridge School

This new replacement school is a state-­of-­the-­art building allowing its dynamic teachers, innovative administration, and deeply invested parent community to come together in recognition of the shared responsibility of raising future generations to be inquisitive, complex, and joyful learners.

Serving roughly 300 students in grades 4 through 8, the 70,000 square-foot new school reflects the high caliber education expected from District 29 as well as an engaged community looking for space to gather.  With the limited amount of square footage driven by its small student population, our design team was challenged to create spaces that work very hard, serving multiple functions and activities throughout the school day as well as after school hours. The resulting school design has been recognized for its high quality, functional and flexible spaces,  and was awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award for Excellence in School Planning by the Association for Learning Environments.  More importantly, the school receives smiles and thumbs-up from the entire school community.

Planning for the new school defines an organization of space into three inter-related components: a commons, academic neighborhoods, and active program areas consisting of larger volume spaces. The village commons is a dynamic and social space that forms the center of the school. Academic teams (or neighborhoods) are accessible from the commons, as are the active program areas of physical education, music, and performance. This collection of spaces is planned to function like a village, a dynamic center surrounded by the activity of daily life—performances, athletic events, music rehearsals as well as quieter academic neighborhoods organized around an active and engaging library. The village commons supports social events, dining and large group activities. The commons is a place for the whole school to come together.

Learning studios are organized into clusters with integrated spaces for resource, small group and interdisciplinary learning.  Students say that their first day of classes in this new school was “the best day of their lives!”