Hoover Elementary School has stood in the neighborhood it serves for a century, educating generations of Lincoln Park children. When it came time to renovate this landmark, many in the community were understandably nervous. This building has been home to many of the community’s fondest childhood memories. A vocal member of the school board had spent her entire career teaching at Hoover. Her children had attended Hoover Elementary. For her this building was family and any modifications were going to be personal.
When touring the facility however, one could see that buildings best days were behind it. Years of repairs and upgrades could not keep up with needs of today’s educational environment. The school also housed the districts Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) program and the existing two-story building with its maze-like corridors made it difficult to meet their needs. The district decided that the existing 100-year-old wing would need to be demolished and new addition constructed in its place.
The addition design seeks to create an inclusive environment for all; new students beginning their educational journey, those students with special needs and those who wish to hang onto the century’s old memory of Hoover Elementary. The layout separates the classroom wing from the public wing. The public wing houses the cafeteria, library, STEM classrooms as well as the gymnasium and can be opened while keeping the rest of the building closed. This separation also helps to limit distractions for those students in the ASD program and creates an enclosed courtyard that is the perfect area for a safe playground. Important elements from the old building façade were also given new life in the addition. The stone “Hoover Elementary” building sign, once sitting over the building entry, now sits inside the public vestibule greeting guests. An old stone archway, once at the main entrance of the building, now has a new home at the entry to the library and STEM classrooms. Symbolically the archway now bridges old and new ways of learning, continuing the tradition of Hoover Elementary and greeting children every morning as it has for the past century.