FIRST PRIZE: 2012 national competition project #195 | cafeteria redesign
Lane Tech College Preparatory High school is one of Chicago's largest schools in the state. The school opened in 1909 on a site of Division and Sedgwick as an all boys school. On September 17, 1934 the school expanded and moved to it's current location of Addison and Western. The school's building was "designed to allow the teachers and pupils to work in a comfortable environment." In 1971, girls were finally introduced to the student population. Soon after the school's academic quality increased and Lane Tech became one of Chicago's most prized high school. In more recent updates, Lane Tech included the expansion of an Academic Center in 2010. This Academic Center brings in the city's top 7th and 8th graders together to experience high school at an early age to be better prepared for high school. This addition causes an increase in the total student population and also creates more congestion in the classrooms, hallways, and especially the lunchroom.
Lane has always been known as a highly populated school. A recent internet meme compared Lane Tech's hallways as being a bull stampede. To many students at Lane the lunchroom evokes the feeling of imprisonment because of the high ceilings and constant pacing of security guards along the aisles of the tables. For some students however, the lunchroom is the only place that they can get a meal to eat. The original design plan for the lunchroom meant to house up to 170 students. The school's overall population currently exceeds 4,000.
The solution being proposed is to create a welcoming environment that can adapt to different types of situations whether its a population increase or decrease. A vegetable garden will also be incorporated into the design to teach students about healthy eating and sustainable practice. The current lunchroom will be added onto due to its enormous size on the site as well as its historic decorative elements located on the exterior wall's facade.
I collected information by walking around the my school asking questions to students, taking photos, and experiencing the issues first hand. In one diagram I show where the heaviest traffic levels occur within the school lunchroom. I also asked many students about their opinions. Many of the students told me what they would like to see added to the cafeteria to improve it such as adding more seating. Some other students I talked to told me that they would like more private spaces to study and less interaction with other students. I took some photos of the lunchroom to help me make an analysis on what should stay and what should go. I developed a site analysis to show its location in the immediate area and I developed a solar analysis to show the area with the most sun during the day.
After assessing all of the major design flaws in the current lunchroom, the next step was to come up with ways to improve the lunchroom atmosphere. I used several case studies to help me back up my design decisions. I also used several sketches to show the design process.
Early 3-D massing in Revit Architecture helped me analyze the lunchroom addition through size and proportion. It also aided me on how it will actually fit on the site. Revit makes it easy to determine square footage in an instant and it also makes it easier to organize different drawings at one time.
My final design is a huge contrast compared to the existing building. From the puzzle-like configurations of bright yellow and green aluminum cladding, to the intersecting form of the cantilevered space, to the use of contemporary technology such as a video projector, and finally to the use of a roof garden to provide a sustainable production of healthier food ingredients.
The design of the brightly colored facade was primarily influenced by the diversity of the students. The students at Lane are diverse not just in terms of their skin color or ethnicity but in terms of their unique qualities. In response I designed the facade with bright yellow and green - the colors of Lane Tech. They are arranged differently to reflect the diversity at Lane.
The choice to create an addition as opposed to recreating a brand new lunchroom came from the social and environmental issues we are facing. Society today has shown to be very wasteful and un-adaptive to the changing environment. I wanted to display something that could show people that we can preserve and have both a contemporary life and the old way of life together, harmoniously. I want people to be able to accept the past for what it is and learn from it. Environmentally speaking, the amount of debris caused from demolishing the entire Lane lunchroom would surely outweigh the amount of waste that would be created from building an addition.