Joliet Central High School Student Center Addition Wins 2017 CBC Merit Award
May 25, 2017 08:24 AM
The Joliet Central High School Student Center Addition won the 2017 Chicago Building Congress (CBC) Award in the category of New Construction Suburbs last night at the Merit Awards Gala held at the Chicago Marriot Downtown Chicago.
The Chicago Building Congress Merit Awards celebrates the collaborative effort required by the building process and the impact of that effort upon the community at large. Judging is based upon the distinctiveness of design, quality of construction, impact upon the community, and the project’s safety record.
Co-chaired this year by Michael Fitzgerad of OKW Architects, and Steve Crowley of Graycor, the 2017 Merit Award Committee met in February to select finalists in each of the 9 categories. Next, the Merit Award Jury entertained presentations by each of the 33 finalist project teams. Assistant Superintendent Dr. Ilandus Hampton and members of the Wight and Co. and Gilbane teams presented the project to the jury who then had the difficult decision-making process of selecting a single recipient for each Merit Award category.
Built in 1901, Joliet Central High School is a beloved historical landmark in the heart of downtown Joliet. The four-story limestone structure, built in collegial gothic style, serves as a beacon of light for Joliet’s urban community. Decades of alumni return to their alma mater with a sense of pride that is strengthened by the beauty of the many building additions made to the campus throughout the years to keep up with growing enrollment and modern academic needs.
The student center addition was no exception when it came to the design and ensuring that the historical integrity of the school was maintained. Since the existing building is on the National Register of Historic Places, connecting to it posed a unique challenge. The team had to be sensitive to the existing building’s character and historical significance, while physically connecting it to a new building.
“The district and community are very protective of the school and its architecture, but with input from a multitude of community and district stakeholders, the structural engineers and architects designed an airy, glassy galleria, bringing the existing exterior stone wall of the school into the interior,” said JTHS Superintendent Dr. Cheryl McCarthy. “The galleria space links the existing building to the new main entrance, kitchen, dining pavilion, student services area, credit union, and learning spaces. It also provides a common place for stairs and an elevator to connect to all levels of the school. In essence, the galleria is the gateway to the past, present, and future of the school.”
Also, considered in the design was the importance of building spaces that the community, as well as the student body, could use for special events. The open galleria and spacious dining pavilion are both offered to the school and community for special events, most recently hosting over 1,000 guests for a Kermes Celebration that embraced the Latino culture and community. This is just one of many community events that have been held within this majestic space.
“I am so extremely proud of this addition and all who contributed to this project,” said McCarthy. “With the vision of our Board of Education, Wight and Co., Gilbane Construction, our Central Archives Committee, and dedicated JTHS staff, the Central Student Center Addition has unified generations of students, both past and present, and is truly a beacon of light for our community.”