GEMS foundation work includes a tower crane pad

GEMS World Academy Upper School

Sparks fly as the tower crane pad is readied at the GEMS World Academy Upper School.

Caisson work at GEMS World Academy Upper School in Lakeshore East started and finished in the fall. Then, we all settled in for winter. But now that the ground is thawing, Power Construction is back to work on the bKL Architects-designed school.

Will this be the next tower crane erected in March? It sure looks like that pad is just about ready for a stub. That would get Chicago back into the 30s, as long as the crane is fully assembled before any of the topped-out projects bring theirs down. No pressure, Power! (But don’t take 900 West or 465 North Park down too soon…)

The University of Illinois at Chicago has its own tower crane

UIC tower crane

Central Contractors Service was on the UIC campus Tuesday, schooling the masses on proper tower-crane assembly procedures.

What a teaching tool it could be, that big yellow tower crane across the street from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Higher learning, or something like that.

Anyway, tower-crane assembly at the academic/residential complex UIC is building on West Harrison Street between Peoria and Morgan began Monday, and Tuesday saw the jib lifted into place. A few gears and cables will be attended to Wednesday, and it should be ready to go as we enter March.

This marks Pepper Construction’s first tower crane in town since they removed the self-erecting crane form the Moxy Hotel job in River North.

Normally, the photo gallery below would include the building permit for that shiny yellow crane. However, this project isn’t being built on city land. Therefore, the City of Chicago doesn’t issue any permits at all for it. UIC is responsible for making sure the tower crane is erected properly and safely.


The Columbia College Student Center is underway

Columbia College Student Center

Pepper Construction began site prep last week at the new Columbia College Student Center in the South Loop.

A permit issued Friday sets the stage for work to begin on the Columbia College Student Center at Wabash Avenue and 8th Street in the South Loop. That would explain why a crew from Pepper Construction was on site last week, installing sidewalk protection and getting the lot prepped for activity.

Monday, Case Foundation posted on its Facebook page that they would begin drilling 57 rock caissons in March. With a little cooperative weather, Columbia plans to open the Gensler-designed student center late this year.

Despite the relatively wide footprint, at five stories, it’s not likely the new facility will require use of a tower crane, but we’ve reached out to Pepper to find out for sure. We should know soon.

University of Illinois at Chicago plants a tower crane for its new Academic/Residential Complex

UIC tower crane stub

The University of Illinois at Chicago is building a 10-story academic and residential complex, and this tower crane will help.

There’s no substitute for walking the streets of Chicago on a regular basis. Otherwise, you’re going to miss things. For example, the new 10-story residential & academic complex being built by the University of Illinois at Chicago. It looks, according to the Chicago Tribune, like construction started way back in December. But darned if I can find any building permits for it. But sure enough, the surface parking lot is gone, Revcon is on site drilling caissons, and there’s a bright yellow tower crane stub planted in the middle of the site, at Harrison and Morgan Streets.

Solomon Cordwell Buenz designed the complex, which marks the first new dorm facility for UIC since 2007. Included in the residential hall will be 550 student beds, with 16,000 square feet of community space for scholars to share, a top-floor sky lounge, and 1,600 square feet of retail space. Pepper Construction is the general contractor, and that tower crane will be their first in the Chicago sky since the removal of the crane at the Moxy Hotel in River North. Construction is expected to extend into Fall 2019.

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.