By Terry Dean
A new pool, administrative offices on the first floor, and a redesigned welcome center are among the general concepts being discussed by a facility planning committee considering changes to the Oak Park and River Forest High School campus.
These and other potential renovations have been discussed by the committee and the school's architect, Legat. The school for some time has been looking into long-range facility planning.
Along with continued improvements made to the 107-year-old building, school officials say increasing enrollment over the next decade necessitates physical changes to the campus. Enrollment will hit 4,000 a decade from now, according to the school's estimates.
Two "conceptual blueprints" were offered by Legat to the committee, which includes community members, school staff and school board representatives. No timetables, budget or construction dates have been discussed, as these are only preliminary, conceptual ideas at this point. But any major renovations planned to the building would be the most extensive work for OPRF since the late 1960s.
Both conceptual floor plans involve building out onto Scoville Avenue, in effect doing away with some of that existing outdoor green space, in order to add interior space.
The school's main entrance would relocate further south, roughly where the entrance to the field house is currently located. The new entrance would lead to a new "welcome area" to the right.
The large sprawling area near the main auditorium that current serves as the welcome area would become a study common for students.
A single, large pool area would replace the current west and east pools, both as old as the main building and very outdated. One idea is to build that pool in the southeast corner of the field house (the east pool and weight room is currently there). The other idea involves taking a portion of the field house gym and building it there. Either lockers or a gym would replace the west pool, located in the southwest part of the field house.
Other ideas involve giving building and district leadership, as well as faculty and department chairs, their own clustered offices in the building. Currently, district and building administrators and staff are on the second floor. The revised floor plan puts building administrators on the first floor and district administrators on the second. In both cases, their offices would be located closer together. Faculty offices would also be clustered.
Opening additional classroom space would be the net result of relocating administrative and faculty offices. Other campus changes are intended to be aesthetic as well as educational. A "learning garden," for instance, plus additional classrooms would be located on the forth floor.
The school's planning committee is currently studying the blueprints to provide feedback to Legat.
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