Balancing Historic Architecture, Sustainablity and Modern Amenities

Elmhurst Community Unit School District 205, in Elmhurst, IL, welcomed the public to tour the newly renovated and expanded Hawthorne Elementary School. A special dedication to celebrate the completion of the school’s $16M makeover was held in September.

The building project included a two-story, 12-classroom addition (20,000 sq. ft.) and another 58,000 sq. ft. of renovations to the 90-year-old Hawthorne grade school. Its purpose was not only to provide more space for growing enrollment but also to modernize the teaching environment.

A notable design feature of the project was the preservation of the original historic façade within the two-story atrium between the existing building and the new addition. The changes to the building also incorporated sustainable design strategies such as permeable parking lot pavers, water-saving plumbing fixtures, and high efficiency lighting and mechanical systems.

Other project highlights included:
  • remodeling of existing classrooms with new ventilation systems, power and lighting systems, technology systems, finishes, and casework;
  • making improvements to the building envelope, including exterior window replacement, masonry restoration, and tuck pointing;
  • replacing all major mechanical systems with high-efficiency, energy-saving systems controlled by building automation;
  • remodeling art and music classrooms; and
  • providing abundant natural light through the use of window transoms and a large central skylight.
“Our challenge was to create a modern facility while maintaining the historical integrity and character of the oldest grade school in the District,” said Kevin Havens, Senior. Vice President and Director of Design, of Wight & Company.

The Elhurst district currently services more than 7,800 students who reside primarily in the city of Elmhurst and small portions of Oak Brook, Bensenville, and Addison. At present, District 205 maintains 13 schools (eight elementary schools, three middle schools, York Community High School, and an early childhood center).

The renovation and construction was managed by Wight & Company. For more information, visit