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Spotlight on Southwestern Illinois: Engineering and Architecture

EWR Associates, Inc., new Flora Elementary School

By MELISSA CROCKETT MESKE
P09 flora school    The new Flora Elementary, which will open this fall, has the capacity to house 1,000 students. The new school consolidates four previously existing elementary schools into a single facility, reducing the school district’s annual operational costs by $1 million.
    The 126,000-square-foot facility sits on 48 acres on the southeast corner of Flora, immediately adjacent to the district’s athletic facilities. The city added 1,000 feet of public sidewalk to connect the site to the community. Flora is in Clay County, just east of Salem.
    EWR Associates, Inc. is the architect on the project. CEO Bill Reichert and architect Steve Downen said that the school’s most prominent unique feature is its “Main Street,” at the school’s core.
    “Main Street” is an atrium area with access to two interior courtyards, the library, two computer labs, science labs, art classrooms, teacher preparation areas offices, cafeteria and double gym.
    Four wings on the south end of Main Street house the pre-k, kindergarten, and first- and second-grade classrooms, while three wings on the north end house third-, fourth- and fifth-grade classrooms. Pre-k and kindergarten areas are self-contained, with a separate entrance, lobby, drop-off point and playground from the upper grade areas.
    Interior colors throughout are earth tones and  were chosen for their “calming effect.” The stage straddles the cafeteria/multipurpose room and the gymnasium, with access from either side. Band and music rooms are located on each end of the stage. The multipurpose areas also have separate entrances, allowing access for community events without opening the entire school.
    Vehicle traffic coming in and out of the campus has been managed for maximum safety and flow. Passenger cars and school buses each have a separate one-way flow, as do delivery trucks.
    Estimated total cost for the project is $28 million, with 75 percent funding from the state and $9 million through a local referendum.