CPS Space Design

Newhouse A+D Competition Advanced Architecture - CPS Space Design

Architects and designers are very interested in reactivating overlooked spaces. In 2013, Chicago Public Schools closed 49 elementary schools, many of which are still vacant today. Although plans are emerging for what the interior of some of these buildings could be, less effort has been invested in thinking about
how empty space around buildings could be used.
Borderless Studio & Archeworks are collaborating to explore the future community roles of these closed school sites through the lens of Public Interest Design. Three schools that Borderless Studio & Archeworks have researched three schools extensively:
• Drake (2710 S Dearborn St)
• Overton (221 E 49th St)
• West Pullman (11941 S Parnell Ave)

Identify one of the 3 schools (Drake, Overton, or West Pullman) and redesign the open space around the school buildings to become an active asset to the surrounding community. Your solution must include at least one new structure, and show thoughtful and creative use of outdoor space. Most importantly your design must fit within the context of the specific lot, neighborhood, and community. You cannot remove the school, you must design with it in mind and demonstrate that the space could be reactivated, used, and serve as a community asset.

Define The Problem

• Read “The Challenge” above. • Identify the school you want to work with. • What opportunity might be provided by using/repurposing the school grounds

Your design for a new technology education wing might include the following types and sizes of new rooms and furniture. These are just suggestions. Feel free to revise this and incorporate other spaces you think may be needed.

Technology wing space planning rules of thumb:

space 800 students in your school 1200 students in your school 1600 students in your school 2400 students in your school

Informal gathering spaces with computers

1,800 square feet 2,400 square feet 3,000 square feet 4,000 square feet

Classrooms / Studios / Labs

3 rooms at 1,200 square feet each 4 rooms at 1,200 square feet each 5 rooms at 1,200 square feet each 7 rooms at 1,200 square feet each

Media Lab for Audio and Visual Production

1 lab at 1,600 square feet 1 lab at 1,600 square feet 1 lab at 1,600 square feet 2 labs at 1,600 square feet each

Storage Room

1 room at 200 square feet 2 rooms at 200 square feet each 2 rooms at 200 square feet each

3 rooms at 200 square feet each

Computer Server Room

1 room at 200 square feet 1 room at 200 square feet 1 room at 200 square feet 1 room at 200 square feet


7,400 square feet 9,400 square feet 11,200 square feet 16,400 square feet


Collect Information

Gather more information about your existing technology classrooms by taking photos, sketching, conducting interviews, or doing additional research.

• Define what functions your space could serve.
• Consider purposes the school may have served in addition of teaching children.
Could your solution bring any of those uses back to the site

Brainstorm Ideas

• What are the community assets around the school? Are there essential services missing within a half-mile radius of the school? • Make a massing model of the area, play with scale. • Lay out the site. Where are the opportunities to engage the community

Think About

  • Most technology labs are just rows of computers or individual computers inside cubicles. But is this the best way to use and learn about technology today?
  • How does collaboration occur if each person is looking at their own screen? 
  • Think about the possibilities of using technology in more comfortable places, such as on lounging on a couch or sitting under a tree. How can you incorporate these more informal spaces into your design?
  • Where will this new technology wing / addition be located at your school so that all students can take advantage of it?

Try This

  • Make lots of sketches to get your early ideas down on paper. Learn from each different idea.
  • Based on the information you collected above, brainstorm the types of spaces you’d like your new technology wing at school to have. The space planning rules of thumb in the chart below may be helpful for comparison.
  • Walk around the exterior of your school building and take photos of possible locations for the new technology wing.
  • Use Google Maps to view and print out an aerial photo of your school. Identify a location for the new technology wing. Which side of your school should the addition be constructed on?
  • What other classrooms are currently near your proposed technology wing addition?
  • Contact your school’s building or maintenance department. They may already have a floor plan of your existing school building to use as a reference or base drawing.
  • Sketch bubble diagrams to figure out the spatial relationships between the different spaces. Which spaces will be adjacent to each other? Which spaces should not be next to each other?
  • Make lots of sketches, learn from each one, and figure out the best way to arrange the spaces in the technology wing.


Develop Solutions

Now's the time to take what you've learned from the steps above and develop your own solution for a new technology wing.

• Firm up the program of your building(s).
• Create pathways that connect entrances and activities

Final Design

The final step of the design process is to create more finished drawings that illustrate your ideas to others. Remember, your explanation text and the types of drawings, images, and models you share need to tell the whole story of your project.

• Ask your teacher, friends, family, neighbors, what they think of your design.
• Get professional feedback at CAF’s Teen Open Studios