At an April 16 community engagement session, the Imagine OPRF work group revealed a series of preliminary long-term facilities plans for Oak Park and River Forest High School — the most significant of which called for knocking down and rebuilding the south end of the high school, where most of the gym classes, athletics and extracurricular activities take place.

During the public meeting, which was held in the high school’s south cafeteria and was attended by around 125 people, Imagine OPRF members and architects with Perkins+Will presented three different options for each of three parts of the school’s campus: the academic core on the north end, the common facilities comprising the central part of the building and the south end where PE facilities are located.

According to the district website, each “of the concepts stands on its own; i.e., there isn’t an academic core concept that is meant to go with a particular common facilities concept or PE facilities concepts.”

Volunteers with the Imagine committee said that some parts of the south end of campus are beyond repair and in need of major renovations.

“The physical condition of some facilities in this part of the building is really poor,” said Imagine member Renee Bell.

Bell added that many areas on the south end of campus are not ADA-compliant and are “maze-like,” resulting in spaces that are not amenable to efficient, multi-use functionality.

Two of the options for the south end would entail a complete knockdown and rebuild of that part of the campus while one option would include a relatively limited rebuild. All three options would feature an elevator to improve the accessibility through all four levels of the building and a brand new indoor aquatics facility.

All three options available for the north end of the building would entail creating additional classroom and collaboration space from former library space and relocating the commercial kitchen to be adjacent to food services, loading facilities and the entryway, among other changes.

The three north end options also featured relocated and updated math and science classrooms. Imagine volunteers said that the plans call for locating science and math classrooms closer to each other, since the curricula for the subjects often overlap.

All three options available for the central part of the building would entail opening up parts of the building core to provide students with greater access to natural light and a library that is more centrally located, among other changes.

There were no cost estimates associated with any of the options, which are still preliminary. The District 200 school board created the 40-member Imagine OPRF work group in December 2016. The group is responsible for creating and presenting to the board a long-term facilities plan, which would include cost estimates, at some point later this year.

“At our next community conversation, we’ll be sharing potential facilities options that have been refined based on community feedback at our April 16 session,” according to the Imagine webpage.

The next two meetings will take place on Saturday, May 19, 9:30 a.m., and Monday, May 21, 7 p.m., inside of OPRF’s south cafeteria.

CONTACT: michael@oakpark.com    

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