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May/June 2015

Where can our district get help on school design ideas?
by James Russell

James Russell, IASB associate executive director of communications, answers the question for this issue.

Question: Where can our district get help on school design ideas?

Question: Where can our district get help on school design ideas?

Answer: There are two ways for your district to get ideas and tips on the latest educational environments. One is at the annual conference; the other is an online database.

If you attend the Joint Annual Conference, chances are you have seen the display of school design projects. Located in the Columbus Ballroom hallway at the Hyatt Regency Chicago’s East Tower, this display features all entries in the annual Exhibit of Educational Environments. Winners of this juried competition are announced during the First General Session; however, the display is open all three days of the conference.

Once the conference concludes, each entry is added to School Design Data File, a service developed by IASB for its Service Associates and available for use by IASB member school districts and their architectural firms. This searchable database contains entry form data, illustrations, and commentary for more than 500 school design projects — of every size and scope ― displayed at the Joint Annual Conference over the past 25 years.

The School Design Data File is located here:

IASB has recently updated the database to provide school officials and their architects with ideas and insights into innovative Illinois school design projects. Information provided by the designing architect for each project can now be searched by an even wider variety of variables in easy-to-use pull-down menus.

Users can conduct searches using the following categories and criteria:

  • Type of project: Historic preservation/renovation; Major addition or adaptive reuse; Major addition to existing building; Major renovation; Minor addition; New addition and remodeling/renovation; New addition to existing building; New building; Remodeling/renovation; Special project under $4 million or single space; Unusual environmental or physical plant challenge
  • Primary use of facilities: Administrative; Athletic or recreational; Instructional (school); Instructional and administrative; Other
  • Grade level: Early childhood (Pre-K and K only); Elementary (Pre-K to 8); High School (9-12); K to 12
  • Student capacity: Under 100 students; 100-499 students; 500 to 999 students; 1,000 to 1,999 students; 2,000-plus students
  • Location: by county
  • District: by name

After selecting any one category, the database will respond with the total number of projects meeting the selected criteria in that category. After identifying one or more projects that meet the criteria requested, you can then contact the IASB Resource Center to receive a complete data report for each identified project and copies of the narrative text and/or illustrations supplied by the architectural firm relative to the project.

Additional information about the School Design Data File is available by contacting the IASB Resource Center, ext. 1105, or by emailing Information about the Educational Environments Exhibit is available from IASB Communications, ext. 1131, or by email at

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