Event Recap: Sunset Ridge Tour

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Reading Loft and connection to 6th Grade Neighborhood

AIA Northeast Illinois hosted a late afternoon tour and presentation of the new Sunset Ridge School, Northfield, IL on  August 7, 2019  

Tom Beerheide, Chief Business Official for Sunset Ridge SD 29, Nick Cosek, Project Manager for Pepper Construction and Leanne Meyer-Smith, AIA, Principal Architect for Wight & Company, co-presented how the project was developed and built with the entire community contributing along the way.  Tom spoke highly of how the final design met all the goals of the students, staff and community at large primarily because the school district and the architect continuously held open workshops, town hall meetings and design charettes during the development of the design.   He further told the group that the building was a success in becoming a one-of-a-kind educational center that embraces and expands upon the concepts of future-ready learning with the “whole-child” at its core.  

As the group toured through the school, Tom, Nick and Leanne pointed out highlights that emphasize how the themes of the child’s development and community connectedness were integrated into the final design.  Grade levels are arranged in three academic neighborhoods with age-specific features and unique material colors.  The neighborhoods are connected in the center with a Village Commons that is comprised of a multi-purpose performance and dining area adjacent to the Learning Commons, which supports discovery through media, technology and hands-on activity.

The group also experienced many environmental and energy-savings features such as the photovoltaic array on the roof have contributed to the building’s LEED Platinum Certification and Net-Zero Energy design. Building sustainability features, energy usage displays, and on-site water conservation practices are integrated into the curriculum, providing unique education opportunities and encouraging student connection to the global community, Learning stations with scannable QR codes transform the building into a living laboratory, giving the students a glimpse of energy being created on-site, a living wall that cleans ventilation air, how plumbing works, how the Music at tWing  was built as a Storm Shelter and more.

The AIA Northeast Illinois Chapter wants to extend a special thanks to everyone who made this tour possible including our wonderful host Tom Beerheide from Sunset Ridge, Leanne Meyer-Smith for organizing a great tour and our event sponsor Pepper Construction.

Main Entrance

Reading Loft

Outdoor Classroom

7th and 8th Grade Academic Neighborhood

Energy use Dashboard

Image credits

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A. Ouper

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