Summer construction aims to modernize facilities at Winnetka Campus

Future construction projects will focus on renovating the tower building to match the West building

During the summer, while the majority of students were basking in the sun or enjoying other seasonal activities, construction crews were hard at work completing a major renovation on the third floor of the tower building. The renovation constructed a brand-new Academic Assistance Center (AAC), as well as moved the math office onto the third floor.

Plant Operations Facilities Manager Steve Linke said, “We had done a portion of the third floor last summer, and this summer, completed it. Basically, we took every wall down inside the area.”

“By doing so, we freed up some space and moved the math office up to the third floor. We also created a new AAC and renovated three classrooms on the third floor, and the former math office on the second floor was built into two district-standard classrooms,” said Linke.

The Winnetka campus AAC is a new student support center for sophomores, juniors, and seniors. The AAC space will host various academic programs year-round such as the Math Resource Center, Modern and Classical Languages (MCL) Center, Reading and Writing Center, Reading Strategies, Guided Assistance Program (GAP), Guided Studies, and Bridges. In the past, these programs existed, but were spread out in different rooms around campus. 

Peter Tragos, the Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, said the Winnetka campus AAC was part of the school’s fifteen-year facilities plan.

“The primary reason for the Winnetka AAC is to expand opportunities for students to get support to be successful in their classes,” said Tragos. “We felt like this was a missing piece; the common centralized space for support is really important.”

A new math office was also constructed on the third floor. Thus, the math department was moved off their original location on the second floor, and joined sister departments English and Social Studies (which were moved onto the third floor in 2020) to a new home one floor up.

“The space is great,” Math Department Chair Mary Lappan said. “There’s better light, better power, and it’s a new chance to shuffle up and spend more time with colleagues. It’s a little industrial beige and grey, so we’re still working on some color, but we got rid of most of the boxes and I think everyone’s settled in pretty well.”

Regarding the moving process, Lappan said, “A number of people volunteered a lot of time to help. We went through our old library, where we had a billion books in the back, and every week for months, our department assistant had us pull out more books. It was a team effort.”

But with the introduction of the new AAC and math office, the third floor had to say goodbye to numerous lockers.

Linke said, “We figured out how many lockers we were losing, and we put those lockers in other places. The decision was reached that we would not have to put lockers back on the third floor because they were not needed.”

Junior Tyler Wang took a summer school physics class at the same time as the campus construction.

Wang said, “Overall, I don’t think the construction really bothered me in my class learning, but it did spark some amusing circumstances. I remember the air conditioning not working in our room for a period of time, and the construction workers also ordered an evacuation for half of the building due to concerns from a gas leak. We also had to switch classrooms to one on the South side.”

In all, Linke says the goal of future construction projects is to renovate the tower building to match the newer West building.

Wang said, “To have so many construction projects in tight succession must signal a determination from the administration to improve the facilities, which are evidently very old. It shows that New Trier is lucky enough to have the financial resources to accomplish such a feat.”