FAQ from May 2018

Thank you to all who submitted feedback forms about the concepts presented at  the May 19 and 21 Community Conversation meetings. The questions below include those raised on the forms and by attendees at the meetings.  They do not include answers to some specific questions that were actually suggestions about rearranging facility components, for example, “Could we move the SPED offices in the teal concept?” However, we welcome those suggestions--they are exactly the kind of feedback that helps us refine our concepts--and they have been shared with our consulting architects.

Do the concepts include space for adult locker rooms?
The spaces designated for locker rooms do not specify exact uses or configurations at this point, although locker rooms for officials and coaches are on our list of functions that need to be accommodated in the eventual design phase. We will be sure to include other adult locker rooms and family changing facilities on that list.

What is driving the destruction of the south end, given that the school has maintained that those facilities are structurally sound?
Since there are many problem areas to be addressed in the Physical Education (PE) learning spaces, the most efficient way to do that is to, in effect, start from scratch. The current layout involves dozens of structurally interdependent spaces, which makes a piecemeal approach to remedying problems inefficient and expensive. Building new would enable the most efficient and flexible use of space to meet current and future needs, reduce the costs of maintaining a 90-year-old structure, and create space for a new fieldhouse with a 200-meter indoor track.

Why were no cost estimates presented for these concepts?
The Imagine OPRF Work Group does not yet have cost estimates for any of the concepts we are considering. That is by design. Imagine is undertaking a programmatic planning process where the team assesses all facilities needs, looks at conceptual ways of addressing those needs, and only then begins costing out and prioritizing specific elements of those concepts.

This does not mean the project has no financial limits. It means that at this stage in the process we don’t ignore real challenges because of assumptions that they would be too expensive to address. This approach makes sense for a master planning process. It helps us identify needs and potential solutions for the long term, while also helping to avoid the risk of seizing on lower cost temporary solutions that would need to be redone later to address larger, long-term needs.

What is happening to the existing parking garage in each of these concepts?
The current parking garage remains as is in all three of these concepts.  Imagine research, as well as a previous commissioned study of the school’s parking needs, indicates that the current parking garage, along with the surface parking lot at Pilgrim church and village-assigned street parking, is adequate to meet the current and anticipated future needs of the faculty, staff, and visitors to the school. The Imagine concepts do include plans for improving access from the main building into any future parking garage that might be built, but no such parking garage is part of our current master-planning concepts. 

How has Imagine prioritized to meet the most urgent educational needs? 
Imagine’s prioritization process has focused on multiple dimensions, including, but not limited to:

  • Safety, health, and security of users

  • Systems/facilities on the verge of failure

  • Equity and accessibility

  • Percentage of students affected

  • Facilitating student learning and achievement

  • Creating welcoming and inclusive facilities

Individual Imagine members may give different weight to different dimensions, but one advantage of a large group using a discursive, consensus-focused approach is that such disparities are balanced out as the process moves forward. Additional considerations include:

  • Efficiency (for students, faculty, and staff)

  • Return on investment

  • Capacity for multiple uses and flexibility

  • Life expectancy

  • Balancing academic, social, emotional, and physical impact of facilities

  • Avoiding inefficient short-term “Band Aid” fixes, and the fallacy of sunk costs

Is there enough dance space in these concepts to accommodate all dance users?
The concepts include adequate space to accommodate the current and anticipated future demands of dance programming.

What faculty office arrangement is best for students and faculty?
We are still working on figuring this out. That’s why the concepts show two different ways of accommodating faculty office needs. We are in the process of discussing the various options with faculty and administrators.

How can we ensure that the high school is accessible to students after school hours?
Research tells us that student achievement improves with the number of hours students spend on campus. OPRF students’ desire to have more access to the building outside of school hours was a key finding of our research. In surveys and listening sessions, students repeatedly stressed that they want to spend more time in the building and have more spaces where they could collaborate, study, and socialize during school and particularly before and after school.  The current campus layout makes it difficult to provide spaces for this without disrupting classes during school or presenting security challenges and significant staffing costs outside of school hours.

A commons would create spaces for such activities in a central core of the building. In addition to creating spaces for informal gathering and collaboration, the commons concept includes moving resources such as the library and tutoring center to this area of the building, thus enabling them to stay open longer within a more easily secured area of the building.  A second commons area would provide spaces where students could gather or study before or after activities in the south end of the building. 

Why is there are jogging track in addition to a 200-meter track?
The elevated jogging track is primarily to allow a second emergency egress path and a second loading path for the spectator bleachers in the competition gym. Spectators could access the bleachers from the top or bottom and could access restrooms on two floors, reducing any lines. In one of the concepts, the track also allows access to the storage room, eliminating the need for another corridor connecting the storage area to the main hallway. The jogging track also provides another fitness option for physical education, athletics, and staff. 

We received multiple questions about specific green roof spaces, terraces, and sustainability in general. Here is a summary response.
Imagine is committed to maximizing sustainability of OPRF facilities whenever possible.  Perkins + Will, the consulting architects working with Imagine, have a great deal of experience designing sustainable and LEED-certified facilities for K-12 schools.  That said, the specific green spaces and renewable energy elements shown in these concepts are all still conceptual. As we refine these concepts and move components around, these components would have to be rearranged accordingly. When we begin working on cost estimates for specific components, any additional cost of sustainable components will need to be weighed against potential energy savings and environmental benefits.

Is there a way to fit everything without expanding the building footprint along Scoville Avenue?
We’re not sure yet. Imagine and the consulting architects are still exploring options along the east side of the building. We would like to minimize the expansion of the current building footprint, but some modest expansion may be required.

Is there a concept that does not include demolition of the existing fieldhouse?
One of the concepts presented at the April Community Conversation explored what could fit in the south end of the building if the existing fieldhouse remained. After gathering community, staff, and some student feedback, Imagine team members concluded that maintaining the existing, inefficient fieldhouse would limit the ability to maximize use and efficiency of the current footprint and would compromise our ability to address the needs of the Physical Education Division.

Why is Special Education located where it is in the three concepts?
A common theme in special education is removing or reducing barriers for students. These barriers can exist between students and specialized resources provided to them, and can exist between students and general education. These issues are complicated, and needs sometimes contradict each other. Imagine has found that facilities can play a key role in reducing these barriers for students.

The Special Education Division (SPED) at OPRF includes several different programs with different facilities needs. We have worked with faculty to understand and account for the needs of each SPED program within the large division while developing our master plan concepts. Careful examination of the concepts presented at the May meeting shows efforts to accommodate the facilities needs summarized below (and several others not listed here):

  • TEAM (Transitional Education with Access to the Mainstream) Program: This program serves students with the most profound needs and, often, significant mobility challenges. TEAM requires ADA-accessible classrooms adjacent to each other and to specialized spaces (sensory room, kitchen, laundry, bathroom). It also requires a first floor location with a dedicated entrance.

  • SPED Administrative offices and meeting rooms need a first floor location close to the main entrance to accommodate frequent visitors (parents/guardians for Individualized Education Program [IEP] meetings, professional service providers for IEP and other meetings/sessions, etc.). 

  • Emotional Development: Classrooms and offices that are clustered near each other, but also integrated into the main academic areas of the building, would best serve the needs of this program. Some services within this program have additional, specific needs that our concepts need to accommodate.

  • Learning Development: Classrooms distributed throughout the building would best serve the needs of this program.

  • CITE (Community-Integrated Transition Education) Program: This program serves students who are transitioning out of high school by teaching life skills to promote optimal individual independence. Most of this program is intentionally and ideally located off-campus to help students transition from a school to a community environment.

We received some overlapping questions focused on the swimming pools presented in each concept. The information below summarizes Imagine’s thinking about a new swimming pool at OPRF.

Swimming curriculum

OPRF requires every student to spend approximately 12 weeks in the pool over a two-year period (one nine-week quarter freshman year includes six weeks in the pool with additional weeks for CPR and AED; the same is required sophomore year).  A survey of 26 peer schools in the area found that 15 have a similar two-year requirement, while two required more than two years.  The peer schools generally required a total of 9-12 weeks in the pool, as OPRF does. 

Recommendations about curriculum are beyond the mandate of Imagine. As part of the research process, however, administrators were asked whether they anticipate any changes to the Physical Education curriculum that would impact facilities needs. The clear answer was that the swimming requirement is important to the PE program and will remain in place. Administration provided Imagine with the following statement about the school’s water safety and swim requirement:

The philosophy of our Physical Education curriculum is to expose students to as many different physical activities as possible during their four years here, so that they have a wide range of options for lifetime fitness. As one of few non-weight bearing physical activities, swimming is an essential part of the curriculum. It not only can provide great fitness benefits even in one’s later years, but it also is an excellent physical-rehabilitation activity. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the benefits of swimming include boosting mood, reducing anxiety and depression, alleviating arthritis pain, and building bone health. Moreover, people report enjoying water-based exercise more than exercising on land, and they can exercise longer in water than on land without increased effort or joint or muscle pain.

Approximately 20-30% of OPRF students are either non-swimmers or struggling swimmers when they enter our classes. Through instruction and practice in PE classes, the majority of these students advance to being able to swim and demonstrate life-saving swim skills by the end of the unit. Some have wondered about the possibility of allowing students to test out of swimming. However, as we've described, the objectives of our swim units include much more than simply teaching kids how to swim. Additionally, few of even our most adept swimmers would be able to pass the proficiency test used by our aquatics certification safety firm, which includes swimming 500 yards (10 complete laps) without stopping, treading water for two minutes with hands above the water, and recovering a brick from the deep end of the pool.

Pool Size

The pool size shown in the concepts shared at the May meetings is the size required to replace the current two swimming pools in-kind, plus provide sufficient pool area to move diving back on-campus. Imagine’s research about curricular and extracurricular pool use indicates that a right-sized pool for OPRF would be 25 yards wide and approximately 40 yards long. This would allow for a 25 yard x 25 yard swimming competition area, with an attached diving well and movable bulkhead  separating the two. For Physical Education courses and aquatics practices, a moveable bulkhead would allow for students to swim across the width of the pool, as well as maximize wall space for students who are learning to swim and learning to enter and exit the water safely (something many OPRF students do not know how to do before their PE swim instruction). During aquatics practice and competitions, the bulkhead would allow for simultaneous swimming and diving uses.

This size of pool, commonly called a stretch pool, is typical of pools built in Chicago-area high schools in the last 20 years.  We have identified 18 high school pools constructed in the region since 1996. (In addition, a 50 meter stretch pool currently is being constructed at Libertyville High School.)  Of those, 16 were stretch pools, one school built a new 8 lane x 25 yard pool and renovated an existing 25 yard pool at the same time (Glenbrook North in 2002), and one school built a new 8 lane x 25 yard pool to serve a student body of fewer than 2,000 students (Elk Grove High School in 2004). 

The three concepts presented at the May Community Conversations were all 25 yards x 40 yards (36.6 meters), as was noted by the architects during the meetings.  Like other components presented in these concepts, the pools drawn were placeholders in conceptual drawings.  Exact dimensions of all spaces would be determined in the design phase of the project (i.e., after the master planning process). That said, Imagine does not anticipate recommending any pool with significantly different dimensions, since a smaller pool would not meet OPRF’s needs and a larger pool would exceed those needs.    

Finally, the exact size of the pool has not been a key driver in the master planning process.  Whether a pool is a few yards longer or shorter would not have a significant impact on the location of the aquatics facility, the total size of the aquatics facility, the cost of the aquatics facility, nor the layout and size of the entire south end facility.

Pool Cost

Although Imagine and P+W have not developed costs for any master plan elements, our construction consultant, ICI, has assured us that constructing a pool a few yards longer or shorter does not significantly change the project cost when it is housed within a new structure, as is the case in all three concepts presented in May.

Projected costs contained in previous OPRF reports and plans are not relevant in the current process since none of those included a pool as part of a newly constructed PE/Athletics facility. Unlike previous proposals, the concepts being explored by Imagine do not require an aquatics facility that is wedged into an existing structure, nor do they require any changes to the existing parking garage.

Pool Location Below Grade

Consulting architects Perkins + Will recently designed two pools where the water surface is below grade, but natural light and building egress are available in the two-story pool space.  This design allows spectators to enter the facility on the first floor level.  It is one of the concepts Imagine is currently considering to maximize land use efficiency and reduce the overall height of the facility.

Spectator Seating

The size of the spectator seating in each of the concepts presented is a function of the size of the pool and deck space.  The goal is to use the available space as efficiently as possible while ensuring accessibility, safety, and comfort of spectators.