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Wolcott School 524 North Wolcott


Wolcott School Project Type: Private High-School for Students with Learning Differences Year Completed: 2013 Location: 524 North Wolcott, Chicago IL 60622 Square Footage: 32,000 sf Grades Served: 9-12 Capacity: 160 students LEED: Silver Certification (Pending)

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Conceived by a grassroots not-for-profit, Wolcott School is the Chicago region’s only high-school tailored to the strengths and aspirations of students with Learning Differences. Instead of just being a learning facility for students, Wolcott is a learning facility for special educators throughout the Chicago region. The multipurpose room doubles as the James Tyree Community Resource Center, which offers educational seminars and shares best practices with special educators and parents from school districts throughout the entire region. The 32,000 square foot facility is an adaptive reuse of the former Union League Boys Club building, built in 1926 on the corner of Wolcott and Race Street in the West Town neighborhood of Chicago. On every floor, a central space

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around the original fireplaces becomes a place for circulating, gathering between classes, or for small work areas during classes. Adorned with inscriptions reflecting the values held dear by the Union, each fireplace becomes part of the active dialog between old and new. At the uppermost fireplace, a former skylight was reintroduced to return abundant daylight deep within the building. The contrasting entries - the original paternalistic one and the porous student entry at the garden- continue the dialog between historical and contemporary views of education within the community.


Adaptive Learning Environments

different learning modalities at the teacher’s fingertips

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Commons 4

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Huddle Rooms 2

Partial Isometric - Third Floor 1

Direct Instruction Classroom

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Huddle Room Small Group Instruction connected to Classroom

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Huddle Room Small Group Instruction outside of Classroom

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Collaborative Discussion

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Peer-to-Peer Work Station

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Classroom


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First Floor Plan

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Entry

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Garden

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Student Entry

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Conference Room / Staff Break Room

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Student social space / circulation

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Kitchen

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Gymnasium

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Office

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Tyree Center / Multipurpose

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Outdoor Classroom


Designed as the antithesis to “one-size-fits-all” school buildings, Wolcott supports individual learning styles in a community environment. It provides a wide spectrum of spaces, varying in size, intimacy, and tenor, that can be adapted for specific types of learning and interaction. Ten-student classrooms, each served by a pair of instructors, are partnered with one or more semi-private huddle rooms and common collaborative areas.

Much like adaptive learning software, the school itself can quickly respond to fulfill impromptu needs as they arise throughout the day. With learning spaces that could be mistaken for those of a contemporary college, the design consciously combats the stigma of a “special” school.

Borrowed lights connect all learning spaces throughout. The huddle rooms allow for specialists to work with one or two students at a time or for small group collaborative learning. Common areas on every floor allow for collaborative learning around traditional worktops or informal social seating.

There are no color coded floors, no oversized signage, and no digital clocks. While the populist perception of schools targeting Learning Differences tends to suggest lower expectations, the design intentionally implies an environment worthy of any rigorous college prep.

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UP

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Second Floor Plan

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Student social space / circulation

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Classroom

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Huddle Room

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Third Floor Plan

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Conference Room / Staff Break Room

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Office

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Huddle Room


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Basement Floor Plan

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Student social space / circulation

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Conference Room / Staff Break Room

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Huddle Room

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Building Section - East West

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Storage

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Student Entry

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Office

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Student social space / circulation

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Classroom

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Gymnasium

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Huddle Room

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Tyree Center / Multipurpose

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Conference Room / Staff Break Room

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Garden / Outdoor Classroom

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Credits:

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Client: Wolcott School 524 North Wolcott Chicago, IL 60622 t: 312.610.4900

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

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

Mechanical: Roberts Environmental Control Corp 7410 Duvan Drive Tinley Park, IL 60477 t: 708.429.7700

General Contractor: The Macon Construction Group 1535 N. Elston Chicago, IL 60642 t: 773.665.9584

Electrical: IBC Engineering N8 W22 195 Johnson Drive #180 Waukesha, WI 53186 t: 262.522.4419

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

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


Profile for Wheeler Kearns Architects

Wolcott School  

Chicago's first private high school for students with learning differences.

Wolcott School  

Chicago's first private high school for students with learning differences.

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