John C. Dunham STEM Partnership School

  • area / size 24,000 sqft
  • Completed 2018
  • Cordogan Clark designed the John C. Dunham STEM Partnership School as an innovative learning facility in Aurora, Illinois.

    The John C. Dunham STEM Partnership School at Aurora University serves 150 third- through eighth-grade students from four regional public school districts. The facility is designed to address regional and national deficiencies in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. The School and its new educational model result from the collaboration between University officials, school district leaders, teachers, nonprofits, local businesses, and legislators. It is staffed through a unique professional development strategy that engages teachers from the partner districts as faculty while they complete AU graduate coursework and become leaders in mathematics and science education. The building’s design includes eight grade-school classrooms, an open forum where classes can work together, and six labs that are shared by University and STEM school students. Classrooms feature generous natural light— which helped earn the building LEED Platinum sustainability points and provides a stimulating environment that helps reduce building energy costs. Each classroom is designed with flexible furniture and technology so it can perform as an “innovation lab”. The school is designed to emulate a real-life technology-based work environment: It combines hands-on learning with virtual learning that embraces corporate partners and community. Much of the piping, plumbing, insulation, and shelving is exposed so students can learn how they work. A rooftop garden and a greenhouse, as well as the school’s boiler room and data center, are enclosed with glass so that students can peer in. A prominent wind generator celebrates sustainability near the main entrance, and serves as both an educational and functional kinetic sculpture.

    Design: Cordogan Clark
    Photography: James Steinkamp