Modular and Site-Built Construction Combine to Accelerate School Delivery

In Pingree Grove, Ill., DRH Cambridge Homes selects modular construction for the creation of the Cambridge Lakes Learning Center, home of a new charter school for the village community's growing student population.

November 19, 2012 |
Cambridge Lakes Learning Center

Location: Pingree Grove, Ill.

Installation time: 148 days

Size: 19,000 sf

When DRH Cambridge Homes Inc. annexed a planned development with 3,000 homes into Pingree Grove, a small farm village northwest of Chicago, the principal school district needed assistance to meet the growing student population. Cambridge Homes engaged Presidential Services to research a solution that would bring a shorter school creation cycle, reduce costs, and provide space flexibility that would serve a life-long learning commitment for the emerging new village.

The team determined that a combination of site-built and prefabricated components would meet all three criteria, and the research and partnership led to the creation of the Cambridge Lakes Learning Center (CLLC) – a multi-building campus joined by prefabricated corridors – on a 15-acre site within the new development.

The Process

The action plan included opening a K-8 public charter school and a private pre-school within three buildings in the fall of 2007. Whitley Manufacturing was selected to provide the modular portions of the building. After completion of the first phase, Whitley provided both the second and third phase of development – an addition to the third and fourth grade building, and new construction of a seventh and eighth-grade classroom building.

The accelerated delivery schedule of modular construction allowed the school to scale their facilities to match enrollment. In order to keep disruption to the campus to a minimum, the modular units were built in the factory during the spring, with the balance of work occurring over the summer.

Architectural Excellence & Sustainability

Central, steel-structured “kivas” with high ceilings and expansive clerestory windows were site-built, and the modular units were set around this, forming an interior layout designed for flexibility and a visually appealing exterior. To create a modern aesthetic, the steel of the roof system and white-painted galvanized spiral ductwork were exposed. Sustainable acoustical panels above the structural steel created a well-insulated roof system that also reduces sound transmission.

Each classroom was designed with five natural activity centers, offering flexibility for teachers. Daylighting and passive lighting were used to improve efficiency and support active learning in the classroom.

Cost Effectiveness

The building was designed to deliver value through reduction in upfront costs and long-term savings through reduced operating costs delivered by energy-efficient features and systems. The exterior of the building was clad with a uniquely manufactured fiber cement panel product in cut stone, brick, and wide-lap siding finishes that deliver superior performance and durability at a reduced cost. Insulation was increased throughout the building, including the use of structural acoustical panels with integrated rigid insulation above.

Energy efficient, three-phase packaged HVAC units are roof-mounted and screened behind parapets, preserving the exterior aesthetic. Commercial-grade windows and doors with dual pane, Low-E glazing were used throughout the entire structure. Extensive value engineering and close coordination of the project team developed an optimal scope of work that delivered maximum value to the client.

For more information on the project, visit

About MBI

The Modular Building Institute (MBI) is the international nonprofit trade association serving the modular construction industry. Members are suppliers, manufacturers, and contractors engaged in all aspects of modular projects, from complex multistory solutions to temporary accommodations. As the voice of commercial modular construction, it is MBI's mission to expand the use of off-site construction through innovative construction practices, outreach, and education to the construction community and customers, and recognition of high-quality modular designs and facilities. For more information on modular construction, visit

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