Mark T. Skinner West Elementary School is a 30 classroom replacement school in Chicagos West Loop neighborhood. Part of SMNG-As challenge was to design the new and expanded school to conform to this very tight urban site in a very short time frame. Demolition of the previous school and site preparation work were occurring parallel to development of the design and construction documents while current students are located in a temporary facility.
The original Chicago Public Schools prototype was re-evaluated to meet the site specific needs, to integrate Universal Design principles, and re-designed following the principles of LEED Silver rating. The new school forms one quadrant of a campus plan surrounding Skinner Park. The west facade fronts on the park and contains a series of outdoor classrooms that transition the building to the park, with the main building entry located to the south. The south faade along Adams Street contains the library located on the 3rd floor above the main entry, student dining center on the first floor, and gymnasium/assembly room with an extensive green roof above. The green roof is irrigated using a historic water tank reclaimed from a nearby industrial building. Recycling of demolition materials, bio swales, day lighting, and solar louvers contribute to sustainable building features. To encourage after hours use by local community groups, portions of the school containing public spaces were designed to be easily isolated during non-school hours.