Showing posts with label Wisconsin Avenue Business District. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wisconsin Avenue Business District. Show all posts

Thursday, July 12, 2012

It was supposed to be an oasis in the urban desert

... instead the new Glen Oak Community Learning Center looks like a desert. The grass is dead, newly planted trees are dead and the property was devoid of any activity on a beautiful summer day. A "four-city-block area" with dead grass all around.

It could be that the District doesn't have the funds to run the sprinkler system (assuming one was installed for brand new landscaping); or maybe it's because they can't afford the water bill.

Recall the hype: Glen Oak Community Learning Center In the very heart of Peoria’s historic East Bluff neighborhood, a four-city-block area is being profoundly transformed via a unique set of public and private partnerships. The crown jewel in this development is an all-new 126,000-square-foot Glen Oak School and Community Center that will serve pupils from birth through eighth grade. From both urban and architectural design perspectives, the school itself breaks new ground by providing an all-weather pedestrian street that links a two-story academic wing with a one-story community facility wing. This pedestrian way is on axis with Frye Street, an important east-west connector that extends all the way to Prospect Avenue on the eastern edge of the East Bluff, and to Knoxville Avenue on its western edge.

Back of Community Learning Center
Glen Oak’s all-weather pedestrian street is intended to serve as the nucleus for the entire four-block development. Both the school’s expansive media center (to the north) and its cafeteria and multi-purpose community space (to the south) open directly to this interior venue. In the academic wing to the north, integrated learning laboratories can be found on both levels, which can be used collaboratively by student groups across several classes and grade levels. In the community wing to the south, residents of the surrounding neighborhood can take a night class, utilize the full-service gymnasium, or enjoy an exercise routine while looking out over the public park.

The Glen Oak development does not stop with simply a new school building. It includes a new public park (above the 110 deep wells that were dug for the geothermal heating and cooling system serving the school), designed in cooperation with the Peoria Park District, and a coordinated ensemble of new streets and intersections around the perimeter of the four-block site, designed and built by the City of Peoria. Beyond these public stakeholders, the private businesses in the adjacent Wisconsin Avenue Business District have begun organizing themselves in an effort to provide a powerful and dynamic private-sector complement to all of these public sector inputs.

Frye Street side of Community Learning Center
The Glen Oak Birth—8th Grade Community Learning Center development represents all the best and most profound elements of sustainability. The new school itself includes a geothermal heating and cooling system, generous amounts of natural daylighting, extensive use of recycled materials and systems, numerous bioswales and other natural catchments, and other up-to-the-minute green features. More importantly, it returns a significant portion of formerly “developed” urban area to a “natural” state (in the form of a public park, school sports fields and several outdoor nature explorer classrooms). And, perhaps most critically, it rejuvenates and “recycles” an existing, older neighborhood taking full advantage of all of the embodied energy and infrastructure that such a neighborhood has to offer.