The author’s sketch of an open-air classroom for Brooks Middle School. | PROVIDED

I am proposing that all Oak Park and River Forest schools consider constructing permanent open-air classrooms, professionally constructed from sustainable renewable wood, in a forest-like setting as illustrated. 

Such an educational amenity, designed and fully equipped for teaching and learning, would be appropriate for the teaching of the sciences, for botany and horticulture, for all class subjects, lectures, meetings, and broader use by the community at large. 

The design concept is flexible and can be adapted and customized for any school’s needs and available site. Designed for social distancing of students when needed, having classes and lectures out in the open air and under a canopy of shade trees, surrounded by planters permanently constructed of timbers for longevity, a classroom such as this would provide a very meaningful and very memorable learning experience. 

It would also be available for a wide variety of community uses. By providing a sense of place and permanence, such an amenity would be welcomed by teachers and students alike for decades to come. For any Oak Park and River Forest school that is interested in exploring installing an open-air classroom like this, I will be pleased to provide the custom design pro bono.

Richard Katz
Oak Park

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