Sherlock Elementary School (Cicero School District 99) is the Winner of the Chicago Building Congress 2022 Merit Award in the Education category. Sherlock Elementary School was designed by FGMA and built with its partner, Vision Construction.
A 21st Century Learning Environment
Nestled in a densely populated neighborhood, Sherlock Elementary School (Sherlock Elementary School) provides a fully equipped 21st century learning environment for 600 students in Grades PK-6. It replaces an outmoded school on the same site serving almost twice as many students. A beacon of safety and opportunity, Sherlock Elementary School’s design incorporates 21st century learning pedagogy as well as state-of-art sustainable building standards.
Sherlock Elementary School’s design showcases the transformative power of natural light which flows in from windows that dominate this 4-story building. The school’s glass-enclosed edge circulation features a single-loaded corridor with stacked neighborhood clusters of classrooms that surround Learning Studios and collaborative activity spaces on the 2nd and 3rd floors.
Sherlock Elementary School’s first floor houses Pre K/K classrooms, the cafeteria, and a gymnasium which is also a community storm shelter. Throughout the school, vibrant colors, textured floor patterns and flexibly shaped furniture enhance the feeling of an exciting learning environment.
An Exploratorium encompasses the entire 4th floor of the school, housing a Media Center, STEM Lab, Maker Space, Art Room and the building’s mechanical rooms. Surrounding full-height windows provide 360-degree views that sweep as far as the downtown Chicago skyline.
Sustainable strategies were implemented in the design and construction of Sherlock Elementary School including environmental remediation of the site. Other sustainable features include a green roof, permeable pavers, high-efficiency MEP systems and a storm water management system, all to minimize the building’s environmental impact, an important priority for the school district.
Community Impact and Accolades
Sherlock Elementary School’s design reflects its community’s strong desire for a neighborhood school that children can walk to (lessening traffic congestion) and attend from pre-kindergarten through Grade 6. Outside Sherlock Elementary School, multiple plazas with benches and planters provide gathering spaces for students as well as the community after the school day. A spacious playground is filled with equipment supporting activities that are both fun and educational.
The ground floor design achieves the community’s “gathering place” vision with designated spaces that are accessible beyond the school day. The cafeteria and gym are deliberately adjacent so that adults can participate in learning activities in one space while their children are engaged recreationally next door. Sherlock Elementary School offers a forum for many activities ranging from informational sessions, computer and technology support, trainings and social gatherings for children and their families.
Since opening in fall 2019, Sherlock Elementary School’s innovative design for learning has received accolades. In August 2019, the Chicago CBS-affiliate TV station featured Sherlock Elementary School in a story celebrating the opening of this “high concept modern school.” Learning by Design magazine awarded Sherlock Elementary School “Honorable Mention” in the Fall 2020 Awards of Excellence showcase. The IL Association of School Boards awarded Sherlock Elementary School the “Award of Distinction” for excellence in the design of environmental environments.
Cicero SD 99 & FGM Architects
Cicero SD 99, whose motto is “Igniting the Road to Excellence,” serves children and families of Cicero, a community of 82,000 residents immediately west of Chicago. The District’s 10,689 students attend 15 elementary schools and 1 junior high school. FGMA has been District Architect to SD 99 since 1990, accumulating a depth of knowledge that has ensured a continuous path to improvement for its learning environments and support facilities. In recent years, FGMA designed renovations and additions for 5 other district grade schools. The cumulative experience of those projects and extensive community input informed the design of Sherlock Elementary School.