District 203 students present concepts for historic barn near Naperville
The possibilities seemed endless to Naperville Unit District 203 high-schoolers tasked with developing a vision for repurposing a historic barn near Naperville.
Some saw the structure as an entertainment facility, a restaurant or a rental space for events. To others, the Greene Farm barn and surrounding property could be better suited as a nature center, community garden plots, an outdoor movie theater or an area for recreational activities.
A semester's worth of research and planning culminated this week when teams of architecture and pre-engineering students from Naperville North and Naperville Central high schools presented their concepts to a panel of community judges.
Some elements of their plans now could be taken into consideration as the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County explores possible public uses for the barn and an adjacent farmhouse, both of which have stood unused for decades at Greene and Hobson roads.
"It's not just a student project. It's something that impacts and will impact many lives in a positive way," forest preserve Commissioner Mary Lou Wehrli said. "It's astonishing to see teenagers form teams and put their collective talents together on a project like the Greene barn. To me, it was a win-win for the environment, for education, and for commerce, community and partnerships."
Since January, the student groups have created AutoCAD drawings, hand sketches, elevations, 3-D printed buildings and a tri-fold brochure to display their plans for the Greene Farm site. In addition to their presentations, the students who participated in Wednesday's competition had to be ready to field questions during a gallery walk at the Naperville Municipal Center, said Brian Dunn, who teaches the class at Naperville Central.
Their plans also included solutions for parking, traffic flow, heating and cooling, revenue generation, historical preservation, natural resource use, nature preservation and the overall use by the community.
This is the fourth year the school district has worked with the Naperville Development Partnership to offer the architectural authentic learning project, which is designed to give students realistic, hands-on practice developing plans and working with community leaders. The learning experience was only enhanced by feedback from the judges, who complimented and offered constructive criticism on their models and presentations, Naperville North teacher Rebecca DiOrio said.
A team from Naperville Central, ATP Architecture, was crowned the winner for the best overall concept.
The students' plans included creating a universal space for public and private events in the upper part of the barn; adding a small shop and storage space in the lower part; and transforming the surrounding property into community gardens, a botanical garden and a memorial fountain that pays homage to the property's history.
The adjacent home would be transformed into a learning center for kids and a space to offer baby-sitting services so adults can enjoy the trails.
Three other teams also received awards, including North Architecture of Naperville North for the best 3-D model and display boards; Spartan Architecture from Naperville North for best presentation; and Masotamo of Naperville Central for best use of the barn.
Winners will be recognized at a May 7 city council meeting.