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GEMS World Academy Upper School, Chicago, IL

Design is complete and construction is about to begin on the Upper School for GEMS World Academy-Chicago, the first K-12 school in the US from international award-winning educator GEMS Education.

GEMS Upper 2

The key focus for this 16-story, 240,000 sf project: finding optimal solutions to vertically stack this school’s complex program. Having solved similar design challenges at the recently completed William Jones Preparatory High School in Chicago, WSP USA, formerly Halvorson and Partners, offered early and ongoing input to collaborate with bKL. The result, an adaptable steel structure to accommodate the variety of layouts and requirements, and also minimize loads on the significant transfer conditions, including:

Seven stories of classroom and other program spanning over the pool, supported with story-deep steel trusses.

  • Pool spanning over the 2-story multi-purpose auditorium, supported by deep girders and sloping columns
  • multi-purpose auditorium and hanging dining room over the gymnasium, supported by trusses in dining ceiling


Isolated floating floors are also integrated throughout for sound and impact separation from such spaces as the gymnasium, music rooms, dance rooms, and the black-box theater and sound rooms at the top of the tower.