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Intrinsic School 4540 W. Belmont Ave


Intrinsic School Project Type: Chicago’s first High-School designed specifically for Blended Learning Year Completed: 2014 Location: 4540 W. Belmont Ave, Chicago IL 60641 Square Footage: 58,000 sf Site Area: 2.6 Acres Grades Served: 7-12 Capacity: 920 students

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By converting a former lumberyard into a revolutionary learning space, Intrinsic School provides a model for the adaptive reuse of unorthodox structures for 21st century schools. School buildings rarely are designed to support nontraditional teaching models. Intrinsic’s bold and unprecedented vision required a campus worthy of its mission. The result—the first campus in the country designed to truly support a Blended Learning curriculum— is a school without a single traditional classroom. Instead, large customizable learning environments are populated by a variety of distinct zones, each of which is tailored to a specific style of learning. Empowered by the accessibility of technology and robust online educational platforms, schools around the world are experimenting with

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individualized educational models. Launched in 2014, Intrinsic is a new network of public charter schools in Chicago that blends adaptive, individualized, and peer to peer learning with traditional, teacher-led instruction—a model known as Blended Learning. The school’s mission is to provide a revolutionary new model of urban education in order to ensure postsecondary success. The school’s leadership is simultaneously committed to reinventing the classroom for 21st-century needs and establishing best practices that can be shared with other schools.


Not many educators would look at a shuttered lumber yard on Chicago’s Northwest Side and declare it the perfect place for a new school. But Intrinsic School’s leaders weren’t looking for a traditional school, instead they were inventing a new type of learning space. The large column-free spaces located in a highneed neighborhood provided just the place they needed for next-generation learning. There were three buildings on site, originally constructed between 1911 and 1955. All featured historic bowstring truss roofs, though one building’s roof had collapsed. One of the most dynamic buildings was an open-air, barrel-roofed shed constructed in 1955. At least 75% of the historic structures were preserved, restored, and left exposed within the learning environments to visually connect the students with the building’s industrial past and to subtly highlight the environmental and

aesthetic value of reuse. Purposefully blending new and old is a metaphor for Intrinsic’s educational mission, where technology is used strategically by classroom teachers to personalize education for each student. New exterior walls on the south and west sides wrap the entry and circulation spaces, and plentiful windows are integrated into the pattern of the paneled facade. Inside, a “ship in a bottle” approach was used to create a twostory steel-framed building inside the existing building. This solution is visible from the main lobby where the new overlaps the old.

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Shared Community Facilities Shared Community Facilities

Middle School Middle School

High HighSchool School

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Teaching Spaces Teaching Spaces

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Interior Circulation Interior Circulation 3

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Exterior Circulation Exterior Circulation

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Site Plan

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Staff and Guest Parking

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Turf Practice Field

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Entry Plaza

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Renovated Existing Building

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Bicycle Parking

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Vehicular Drop-Off Area

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New Construction

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Pedestrian Refuge Island

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Neighboring Buildings

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First Floor Plan 1

Multipurpose Room

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Huddle Room

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Mechanical Room

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Warming Kitchen

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North Atrium

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Electrical Room

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Storage

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Grade Level Pods

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Staff Room

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Learning Lab

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Digital Lab

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South Atrium

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Reception

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Chemistry Lab

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Multipurpose Room Warming Kitchen Storage Learning Lab Reception Huddle Room North Atrium Grade Level Pods Digital Lab Chemistry Lab Mechanical Room Electrical Room Staff Room South Atrium

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10’ 10’

Second Floor Plan

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Multipurpose Room (Below)

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Grade Level Pods

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Administration

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Storage Room

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Conference Room

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Storage Room

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Learning Lab

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Mechanical Room

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North Atrium

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South Atrium

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As the first school in Chicago, purposefully designed for Blended Learning, Intrinsic’s multifunctional learning environments necessitated a reconfiguration of the traditional classroom.

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In a Blended model, teacher-led instruction is supplemented by individualized software-based learning, so large, open “pods” have been organized around modalities, allowing a single space to simultaneously offer direct instruction, peer-to-peer learning, and independent work.

edges, counter-style desks of varying heights face the wall and create a “coastline,” allowing students to direct their attention to individual tasks. This environment, as well as adaptive software, serves the student’s ability to learn at his or her own pace.

Subtly delineated in the flooring, each area is tailored to a specific use. Below an oversized, custom-built shade—a wayfinding element and acoustic dampener—a large table facilitates group projects and student-led learning. Focused around a big board—a writeable projection surface—traditional instruction takes place at two locations in the pod. Around the

The pod’s flexibility enhances the online learning. With as many as 4 teachers and 90 students, mobile seating helps facilitate “popup classes” aimed at reinforcing concepts or remediating misunderstandings while a “genius bar,” where individuals can meet with instructors, provides the option of one-on-one instruction.


The Ocean

THE OCEAN These soft seating risers are used as an THE OCEAN alternative learning location for students during independent study periods.

Pop-Up Class THE OCEAN

POP-UP CLASS Prompted by real-time metrics, an instructor POP-UP CLASS

can gather up to 10 students struggling with the same concept and mediate understanding with an impromptu direct-instruction session around an interactive whiteboard.

POP-UP CLASS

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GeniusBAR Bar GENIUS GENIUS BAR

Typically attended by one instructor, this primary

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supervision location also serves as a place where any student can seek counsel.

Coastline

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COASTLINE

As the most introspective space in the pod,

the Coastline affords students a place to focus COASTLINE COASTLINE on personalized learning, primarily mediated through digitally delivered video and audio on Chromebooks outfitted with earbuds. On the Coastline, each student learns at their own velocity, achieving mastery of foundational

THE EXCHANGE concepts

Typical Pod Configuration

before tackling more ambitious ones.

The Exchange, or Shade

THE EXCHANGE As the home of collaborative learning, this is the THE EXCHANGE place where students actively engage with one another, making connections and elaborating on topics to achieve a deeper and more durable understanding. A light fixture with an oversized shade hovers over the tables, serving both as a landmark and an acoustical absorber.

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LABORATORY

SEMINAR ROOM

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SEMINAR ROOM


Credits:

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Client: Intrinsic School 4540 W. Belmont Ave Chicago, IL 60641 t: 708.887.2735

Structural: Enspect Engineering 8300 Mississippi St. Merrillville, IN 46410 t: 219.525.3102

Owners Rep: RMC International 401 N. Michigan Ave, Suite 2910 Chicago, IL 60611 t: 773.802.5632

Architect: Wheeler Kearns Architects 343 S Dearborn St. Suite 200 Chicago, IL 60604 t: 312.939.7787

Civil Engineer: Terra Engineering 225 W. Ohio Street, 4th Floor Chicago, IL 60654 t: 312.467.0123

Photography: Steve Hall - Hedrich Blessing 400 North Peoria Street Chicago, IL 60642 t: 312.491.1101

General Contractor: Clune Construction Co. 10 Riverside Plaza, Suite 2200 Chicago, IL 60606 t: 312.726.6103

MEP Engineer: McGuire Engineers, Inc. 300 S. Riverside Plaza, Suite 1650 Chicago, IL 60606 t: 312.876.9240

Aerial Photography: Aerial Impressions 1321 Upland Drive, Suite 2049 Houston, TX 77043 t: 877.533.9003

Landscape Architect: Wolff Landscape 307 N. Michigan Ave, Suite 601 Chicago, IL 60601 t: 312.663.5494

Acoustical Consultant: Threshold Acoustics 141 W. Jackson Blvd. Suite 2080 Chicago, IL 60604 t: 312.386.1400


Intrinsic School  
Intrinsic School  

Chicago's First High-School designed specifically for Blended Learning.

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