* Honorable Mention: Walter Payton College Preparatory High School, Chicago, IL

10/01/2002 |

A Chicago prep school may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the name Walter Payton; however, the 800-student, 162,000-square-foot educational facility named after the famous Chicago Bears running back is quickly gaining recognition as one of the most technologically sophisticated high schools in the country.

As only the second high school to be built in the Windy City in more than 20 years, the Walter Payton College Preparatory School was constructed as part of the Chicago Public Schools’ ongoing $2.5 billion Capital Improvement Program.

The school consists of two buildings connected by an internal “street” (a four-story atrium). The first of the two buildings, a four-story academic wing, contains teaching spaces such as 21 classrooms (900 square feet each), laboratories, and small lecture halls. The second of the two building blocks contains administrative facilities, a resource center, dining/kitchen, a large lecture/performance hall, a practice gymnasium with lockers, and classrooms for specialty subjects (i.e. music).

Innovative products and systems were used to ensure quality construction, efficient operation, and a technologically flexible infrastructure:

  • Energy-conserving features, such as a primary-secondary pumping system and Energy Recovery Ventilators (ERVs), were incorporated into the mechanical system.
  • A Direct Digital Control (DDC) system is used to control the HVAC system.
  • Recognized as long-life building materials, steel framing was used and the façade was faced in light brick.
  • Special window glazing was used to mitigate noise from a nearby elevated train.
  • Raised flooring is used throughout to distribute computer and networking wire and cable.

Smart design and sensible construction combine at the Walter Payton College Preparatory High School, an educational facility that many future schools are sure to be measured against.

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