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Joliet Township High School District 204, Joliet Central High School Student Center Addition

Stunning Historic Restoration of Joliet Central High School’s Campus

Gilbane completed construction of a stunning 43,000 SF addition for Joliet Township High School District 204’s campus in downtown Joliet, Illinois. Key objectives for the project team were to add an expansive student center, an open-plan dining facility, multi-purpose areas, and an elevator to improve ADA accessibility at the Joliet Central High School campus, which serves approximately 3,200 students.

Designed by Wight & Company (Wight), the new structure features a three-story glass curtainwall façade that leads into a bright and inviting student center. Beyond that is a spacious, open-plan dining pavilion that can seat up to 600 people for events. The focal point of the addition is a soaring structure of tubular steel that defines a collaborative space for students where they can study, socialize and access student services. The student collaboration spaces provide upgraded services to students in a 21st century learning environment. Construction of the student center also involved masonry restoration, utilities relocation and parking lot improvements.

Originally built in 1901, Joliet Central High School is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. While the entire project was built to meet the needs of a 21st century educational environment, the historical integrity of the 115-year-old building was preserved. Throughout the project, architectural elements of the existing building were maintained, along with the school’s historical designation. Architectural elements included the incorporation of parapets and a limestone façade that retained the Collegiate Gothic appearance of the main building. A portion of the existing limestone façade underwent restoration, due to its prime location as the interior wall of the galleria.

Client Value

The team heard time and again from residents that they see Joliet Central as a beacon for the entire community. The building design is a physical manifestation of that idea. At night, the three-story atrium glows like a beacon, making its strong presence known in downtown Joliet.

The community venue has the potential to hold up to 400 people, and the galleria space can be configured in an auditorium-style setting, where seating can be set-up around a portable stage. In addition, the open-dining pavilion provides seating for 600 students and has a flexible configuration that can be arranged for community and school events.

“This addition is about preparing us for the future,” according to Superintendent Dr. Cheryl McCarthy, “but it was also very important to us that this new building maintained the historic feel and flow of our campus. The design accomplishes both just beautifully. It literally takes your breath away.”