It’s caisson time for GEMS World Academy Upper School

GEMS Upper School caissons

Checking out a caisson from above at GEMS World Academy Upper School.

The Upper School at GEMS World Academy Chicago has begun caisson work at 355 East Wacker Drive. Case Foundation is on site digging long, slender holes in the ground and then filling them right back in with rebar and concrete.

Originally issued a foundation permit way back in March of 2015, the GEMS Upper School got a new caisson permit on September 20. Designed by bKL Architecture, as was the first GEMS school, Power Construction will take build the school atop the Case’s caissons.

School is in session for cleared South Loop lot

When Chicago Public School students arrive for class at 1601 South Dearborn in the South Loop, the most notable new kid in school will be the school itself.

1061 South Dearborn South Loop elementary school

Rendering of the new South Loop elementary school from Madison Construction website.

The City of Chicago issued a permit on the First of this month for a new elementary school on that location, adjacent to the South Loop Mariano’s. The Public Building Commission of Chicago announced bidding for the project back in June; Madison Construction Company of Orland Park is the victorious bidder, and will serve as general contractor.

The four-story, 120,000-square-foot school, expected to open in time for Fall 2019 classes, will serve 1,200 students in nearly 50 typical and specialized classrooms, including science classrooms, computer classrooms, a gym, library, and even a rooftop play area. The school is a design from Chicago architecture firm SMNG A.

GEMS World Academy Upper School begins work next to its famous neighbor

GEMS World Academy Upper School

No longer a staging area for Vista Tower, site prep is underway for GEMS World Academy Upper School. It will fill the space between to Vista and Coast.

As if we didn’t have enough to watch along East Wacker Drive.

A couple weeks back – on August 4 to be precise – GEMS World Academy Chicago announced the start of construction on the Upper School, which will be built right up against the underway Vista Tower. (You may have heard of that.) Designed, as was the original GEMS building, by bKL Architecture, the Upper School will be a 17-story, 240,000-square-foot facility accommodating more than 1,400 students.

For now, site prep is underway, with Power Construction serving as general contractor.

You can read the August 4 press release from GEMS here.

Wandering Milwaukee: Marquette University puts up two tower cranes

Robert A. Wild, S.J. Commons at Marquette University

Soaring high above the Robert A. Wild, S.J. Commons at Marquette University. Photo courtesy of Curtis Waltz at Aerialscapes.

If you’re a college student in Milwaukee, you might think that headline should read “Marquette University puts up student housing.” Apparently we haven’t met. When two tower cranes appear on the same job site around these here parts, they carry the day. Along with all the heavy stuff.

But of course, student housing is important too. Marquette is building the Robert A. Wild, S.J. Commons to house 890 students at the site, bounded by Wisconsin Avenue, 17th, Wells, and 18th Street. We know the general contractor, J.H. Findorff & Son; during last year’s Summerfest visit, we checked out their work at the Westin Milwaukee. (It’s finished, by the way. We stayed there during Summerfest 2017.) Findorff’s task is to have the Robert A. Wild, S.J. Commons ready in time for Fall 2018 classes.

Design duties were split between Milwaukee’s own Workshop Architects and Baltimore-based Design Collective.

You can read the full July 2016 press release from Marquette University here, or see it in its entirety after the photo gallery.

Robert A. Wild, S.J. Commons at Marquette University

The west tower crane sits on a separate lot, and reaches across the street.

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Coming Attractions: Soil sampling rig takes over Columbia College lot

Columbia College Student Center

A soil-sampling rig stands at the ready on the site of the future Columbia College Student Center.

Maybe there were some gardens there. I remember some pieces of art too, including a funky-looking airplane with a mean face that hung from a pole. But it looks like the small lot at Wabash Avenue and 8th Street in the South Loop is on its way to becoming the new Columbia College Student Center.

There’s a soil-sampling rig on the site now, tasting the dirt to make sure it’s ready to be dug into and built upon. And on that very spot will be the 5-story, 114,000-square-foot, Gensler-designed center. Work should get underway soon, as Columbia College plans to have work completed in time to open the student center before 2018 closes.


Glass panels hit a high note at DePaul School of Music

DePaul School of Music

The barrel vault on the roof of the DePaul School of Music.

A couple features of the new DePaul School of Music are standing out amidst the Lincoln Park construction site. One is the red steel forming the barrel vault atop the three-story facility. The other is glass panels on the north elevation. The black-tar wall is kinda cool, too.

Instruments of construction keeping good time at the DePaul School of Music

DePaul School of Music

Rendering of the DePaul School of Music from Antunovich Associates.

Construction of the new DePaul School of Music continues in earnest on DePaul’s Lincoln Park campus. Bulley & Andrews and their ridiculously long tower crane have been going vertical on the site since Spring of 2016. Antunovich Associates has designed a three-story structure that includes two recital halls, a concert hall, student practice and classrooms, and more than 100 below-grade parking spaces. DePaul plans to have the facility open for student use in Spring 2018.