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Cicero School District 99 Sherlock Elementary School Wins Top Honor

Sherlock Elementary, a new PK-6 school designed by FGM Architects, has won Honorable Mention in the 2020 Learning by Design magazine competition.

Nestled on a dense urban site in Cicero, IL, Sherlock Elementary opened in fall 2019, providing a fully equipped 21st century learning environment for 600 students in Grades PK-6.

“Sherlock Elementary represents a new approach to teaching and learning in the 21st century. When people walk into this building, I want them to sense that this school is crackling with excitement. Every single space in this building is a learning space.” Superintendent Rudy Hernandez

Sherlock Elementary’s design proves the transformative power of natural light, which flows in from windows that dominate this 4-story building. The school’s glass-enclosed curved façade displays a single-loaded corridor with stacked neighborhood clusters of classrooms that surround Learning Studios and other informal learning spaces on the 2nd and 3rd floors. Students on these floors enjoy using the double-height Learning Studios that are surrounded by classrooms which can be flexibly arranged to suit specific activities.

An Exploratorium encompasses the entire 4th floor housing a Media Center, STEM Lab, Maker Space, Art Room, and the building’s Mechanical Rooms. Surrounding windows provides 360-degree views that extend as far as the downtown Chicago skyline.

Throughout the school, colors, textured floor patterns and an eclectic mix of flexibly shaped furniture (including cushions and ottomans) are strategically selected to enhance the feeling of an exciting learning environment.

Sherlock Elementary opened in fall 2019 to wide acclaim. In August 2019, the Chicago CBS-affiliate TV station broadcast a story celebrating the opening of this “high-concept modern school.” In it, District Superintendent Rodolfo Hernandez says proudly, “I know it’s (the design) going to make a difference. We started this on a smaller scale at some of our other schools. The students love it. The teachers love it.”


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