Plainfield Community Middle School

Originating as Plainfield High School in 1956, the building has been expanded and renovated more than sixteen times over the last 60 years.

CSO’s design solution emphasized impacting learning environments, improving building circulation, and upgrading finishes, lighting, and technology throughout the building. The most dramatic change to the building is a new two-story corridor that cuts through a large portion of the existing building. This new space creates a student commons and a clear main entry for the building. The renovated media center and new STEAM focused ‘Idea Lab’ are placed directly adjacent to the student commons, helping to emphasize their importance to the school.
Classrooms were reorganized into grade level specific areas to breakdown the large footprint of the building. Designers capitalized on underutilized space throughout the building by removing walls to corridors to create shared collaboration and break out spaces for teachers to utilize throughout the day.

Various construction types and methods from multiple eras posed a unique challenge for CSO’s designers. By thinking creatively and relying on their expertise, they were able to breathe new life into this building.

Guilford Elementary School

Each neighborhood cluster houses an entire grade level and radiates from the central hub of the building where a two-story Discovery Center, Art Studio, and Music Classroom are all located. Near this central hub are the cafeteria, gymnasium, and main office area within close proximity to the main entry point.

The central commons space for each neighborhood contains a STEM lab, multiple small group rooms, and a large open gathering space to accommodate as many different activities as possible. Natural daylight abounds in these spaces with direct views to the exterior from every space. CSO paid special attention to transitions of one space to other, creating lower ceiling areas of compression as a response to PCSC autism program anticipated to be housed here.

In designing this new facility, CSO explored Plainfield’s rich history and were able to implement different concepts as part of the interior color palette, materials, and wayfinding concepts. The administration emphasized the desire to create a modern building with timeless appeal while being good stewards of their communities’ investment. With this in mind CSO melded modern and traditional design concepts utilizing a masonry veneer with traditional elements juxtaposed to large windows with metal panel picture frames. The result is a modern building with classic elements that will age gracefully over the coming years.

Imagination Lab

Plainfield Schools sought to repurpose a 17,000 square foot natatorium into an educational facility. Their goal was to create an innovative, inspiring, hands-on learning facility branded as the “Imagination Lab”. A team of a passionate educators were assembled to work with the design team. They worked together to establish the program and over-arching goals for the facility. In order to enhance the ability of the educators to envision the space, designers used virtual reality to allow educators to be “in” the spaces and provide amazing feedback that designers were able to build upon. The resulting design created an environment to empower students to think for themselves, imagine their futures, and grow the confidence, desire, and drive it takes to change the world.

A large lab space establishes the heart of the facility with supplementary spaces for focused means and methods of learning, building, creating, inventing, and investigating. At one end, a fabrication lab with sinks and work benches encourages hands on, messy work while two green rooms with cycloramas for video recording, two acoustically treated sound rooms for editing, and tables designed for collaboration around a computer are at the opposite end. A centrally focused gathering stair made of solid walnut planks provides an opportunity for speakers of all ages to present to large groups. Four Thinking Studios sit parallel to the lab and house artists-in-residence and encourage community vendors to provide an on-site learning experience. A Collaboration Corridor connects the Thinking Studios and the Lab. Flexible furniture provides options for various postures and group sizes as they work together to problem-solve, create, and learn. Operable glass partitions connect the corridor to the lab as well as connecting all of the thinking studios in order to create a large, open space supporting multiple functions.

Mobility was key as the needs and experiences change throughout the days, as do the ages of the students. The space comes to life with a wall graphic that captures the concept of the flow of learning. The mission of the Imagination Lab was to empower students to think for themselves, imagine their futures, and grow the confidence, desire, and drive it takes to change the world. The District will tell you: mission accomplished.