Crow Island Elementary School

  Photo by Albert Herring

Photo by Albert Herring

1112 Willow Road, Winnetka, Illinois
Eliel and Eero Saarinen with Perkins, Wheeler & Will, 1940

This building, a one story elementary school in suburban Winnetka, created a template for modern schools that eventually was replicated all over the country. An offshoot of the International Style, it is very much indebted to the Arts & Crafts Modernism that Eliel Saarinen, father of Eero, pioneered at Cranbrook, his school and artist colony outside of Detroit. The original floorplan was a pinwheel with three  wings of classrooms – a fourth wing was added in the 1950s -- spinning off of a central pavilion containing the entrance lobby, library and a 400-seat auditorium. The classrooms include child-scaled bathrooms and furniture, the latter  designed by Eero Saarinen. The exterior is highlighted by modestly patterned brick walls ornamented with ceramic tiles designed by Eero’s wife Lily Swann Saarinen, large steel windows and a dramatic 50-foot chimney that doubles as a clock tower. The adjacent playground contained one of the first “jungle gym” climbing toys in the world.