ED lab INC
Robin Randall

North Grove Elementary School

“Reaching into Nature”

Architect: FGM Architects
Senior Designer: Robin Randall
Photography: Craig Dugan Photography
Client: Sycamore CUSD 427

Completed in 2009
Science of Learning:
Inspired by the nature of children’s learning, their curiosity, their openness to new ideas and their connection to the environment, this 91,000 SF new elementary school engages the rural prairie landscape. By expanding the curriculum beyond the walls of the classroom, the community of learners, kindergarten thru fifth grade, reaches out into the community of Sycamore and beyond. Individual and team learning is supported by meeting and display areas along the radial connecting corridor which links the classroom wings to the community exploration spaces.

Language of Nature:
Arrayed across the site in the east/west orientation to maximize daylight harvesting, the classroom wings define “outdoor spaces” in-between. These environments extend into the landscape and enclose exploration spaces including the library and story time area, the cafeteria and stage and multipurpose classrooms. The exterior classrooms to the front of the school provide overflow seating for the cafeteria and reading space for the library. The west facing courtyards are landscaped to echo the interior floor patterns.

Art of Innovation:
Intensive lighting studies were conducted to maximize natural lighting penetration into the classrooms. Defuse glass installed above vision glass is the cost effective solution for bringing in natural light without glare. Lighting occupancy sensors and programmable thermostats reduce energy costs. Vertical sunshades on the eastern window walls of the library and cafeteria bounce natural light into the learning environments without heat or glare.

FGM Architects Awards:
  • 2010 Illinois Association of School Boards, Exhibition of Educational Environments, Honorable Mention
  • 2009 AIA Northeast Illinois Honor Awards, Design Award