District 200 officials unveiled the first sneak peek of design renderings for the new cafeteria/student resource center at Oak Park and River Forest High School. Construction on the facility is expected to start in June 2020 and be substantially completed in August 2022, said Mike Carioscio, D200’s chief operations officer, during a regular meeting on Oct. 24. 

“It’s really very nice,” Carioscio said of the new building, which features design elements that are inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright, the Prairie School architect and longtime Oak Park resident. But, he says, with a modern flair. 

The brown material trimming the windows isn’t wood. Carioscio said “it’s some space age material — I don’t know what it is, but it’s something that’s really cool.” 

Carioscoi said that representatives from FGM Architects and Peppers Construction will give a more detailed design presentation to the board later this month. 

Carioscio also gave board members virtual tours of the new cafeteria and student resource center. The space is much more expansive than the high school’s current cafeteria and looks out onto the athletic fields and the mall, where students will be able to lunch outdoors when the weather permits. 

The building would house the student resource center and the library on the second and third floors. The second floor, just above the south cafeteria, would feature a maker space and several classroom learning spaces.

A wide “learning stair” allows students access to the third-floor library. The stairway area may double as a gathering or learning space with the capacity for two full classes and “there will probably be the capability to do projection here,” Carioscio said. 

The library features ample study space positioned by the building’s windows with views of the mall and the fields. There will also be quiet study rooms available on the second and third floors, said Greg Johnson, D200’s assistant superintendent. 

Along with the cafeteria and student resource center, construction on special education improvements, the student common space and classroom renovations is expected to start in 2021. 

The work, which is estimated to cost $37.3 million, is part of the first phase of work that was outlined in the Imagine OPRF long-term facilities plan, which the board approved in December 2018. 

Carioscio said the phase one construction that is set to start in summer 2020—that includes the construction of four to five test classrooms, the mailroom, the cafeteria/student resource center and Driver’s Ed space— will likely impact a range of programs at the high school. 

For instance, the school’s existing mailroom would need to be relocated during the summer and there would be no simulators for Driver’s Ed summer sessions, prompting a need for more actual cars and teachers. 


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