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GEMS World Academy Lower School, Chicago, IL

Speed was key – both in design and construction – for the Lower School for the GEMS World Academy-Chicago, the first K-12 school in the United States from international award-winning educator GEMS Education. As the first of two new GEMS facilities within Chicago’s Lakeshore East development, the 10-story, 82,000 sf Lower School needed to open to grade K-5 students by Fall 2014.

GEMS Lower School

WSP USA, formerly Halvorson and Partners, worked closely and expediently with bKL Architects to devise a structure that efficiently accommodated a diverse stack of program types – including a mid-height multi-purpose/gym room, an open lunchroom and terrace above, and roof top playground. Utilizing a reinforced concrete structure, we also minimized floor structure depths to insure the diverse floor types fit and aligned with the varied site height constraints. Isolated floating floors are integrated for sound separation from such ‘noisy’ spaces as music rooms and the multi-purpose gym. The structure topped out Fall 2013 and is on target to open in Fall 2014, as needed.

Construction of the GEMS Upper School is set to follow soon, and will open Fall 2016, to complete the campus. See more on the GEMS-Chicago Upper School, also designed by bKL and WSP USA.