Project File: School of choice

The “choice theory model” that promotes independence and group interaction inspired the design of Aspen Elementary School, Vernon Hills, Ill.

The project includes a 58,842-square-foot addition that triples the size of an existing kindergarten to create a K-6 “School of Choice.” The addition situates primary grades on the first floor and intermediate grades on the second. Each grade level has two “grade-level teams” of 50, totaling 350 students.

Forming the heart of the school, an outdoor courtyard/classroom connects the addition and existing building. Its swirling patterns of multi-colored gravel represent the fun and freedom associated with the choice theory model. The courtyard includes a path with a timeline and sculptures of planets.

The design highlights the library, which has glass and metal walls that lean into the courtyard. Students inside the library experience a connection with the outdoors and a feeling of spaciousness.

A new entry connects the existing kindergarten and the addition. Its glass walls provide visibility for security and offer a glimpse of the outdoor courtyard.

The architect is Legat Architects, Inc. (Waukegan, Ill.), and the landscape architect is 3D Design Studio (Grayslake, Ill.).

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