A Look Inside Downtown Chicago’s Newest School
Apr07

A Look Inside Downtown Chicago’s Newest School

Downtown’s Chicago’s newest elementary school is rapidly approaching completion.  GEMS World Academy Chicago (350 East South Water Street) looks fairly complete on the outside, and if it wasn’t for the construction hoist bolted to the southeast corner of the building, you might suspect from a distance that it is complete on the inside as well. This GEMS is the local outpost of GEMS Eduction, an international  company...

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Slice of Life: Chicago’s Most Polite Out of Order Sign
Mar14

Slice of Life: Chicago’s Most Polite Out of Order Sign

Hotels are judged by the service they provide.  A polite bell hop can turn a three-star TripAdvisor review into a five-star TripAdvisor review. So, you’ll have to excuse the staff at the Swissôtel (323 East Wacker Drive) for being used to being deferential.  Even the “Out of Order” sign on a pedway door goes above and beyond to make sure the door doesn’t feel...

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Can Jeanne Gang Pull Another Rabbit Out of Her Hat at Lakeshore East?
Mar04

Can Jeanne Gang Pull Another Rabbit Out of Her Hat at Lakeshore East?

For the first time in a long time, there is no residential tower under construction at Lakeshore East.  The decade-old community on the edge of downtown Chicago was formerly an old urban golf course, and before that, warehouses and a rail yard.   Today, thousands of people live and work in the complex, which rings a six-acre park built by the project’s developer, Magellan, and later donated to the Chicago Parks District.  But...

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Slice of Life: Can You See the Face Hidden in Aqua?
Dec27

Slice of Life: Can You See the Face Hidden in Aqua?

On a typically frigid December afternoon, I snapped this photograph of the celebrated Aqua tower (225 North Columbus Drive).  As I was taking the photo, a man said to me, “Do you see the face?” My first instinct was to respond with my standard answer any time someone unexpectedly starts talking to me in Chicago, “I don’t carry cash.”  But instead I managed to mumble, “Whuuuh?” He went on at...

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Status Update: GEMS World Academy – C’mon Get Happy
Dec26

Status Update: GEMS World Academy – C’mon Get Happy

The last time we posted a construction update on the GEMS World Academy (350 East South Water Street) in Lakeshore East, we received several inquiries about its exterior.  In spite of the drawings of the building that we’ve published here repeatedly, people are still being caught off-guard by the paint job. Technically speaking, it’s not a paint job.  They’re metal panels with the color infused into them so that it...

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GEMS Academy Gets Topped, Striped [updated]
Dec09

GEMS Academy Gets Topped, Striped [updated]

Word came in late last week from friends-of-the-blog bKL Architecture that its GEMS World Academy, under construction at 350 East South Water Street, has topped out. The 153-foot-tall,  82,000 square-foot school will be the home to students from kindergarten to fourth grade.  Phase two of the project is a 16-story, 254-foot-tall school nearby at 355 East Wacker Drive for students in fifth through 12th grades.  Construction has not yet...

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Slice of Life: The View From Aqua
Dec01

Slice of Life: The View From Aqua

A couple of weeks ago, before people were eating Turkey and the snow was falling, we received two interesting photos in the e-mail.  Both were of views from different apartments in Aqua (225 North Columbus Drive).  One was the view of Millennium Park and the Michigan Avenue streetwall, and the other was of Lakeshore East Park. So, if you’ve ever looked up at Aqua and wondered what the view from up there is like, now you know....

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Status Update: GEMS Just About Ready to Top
Nov19

Status Update: GEMS Just About Ready to Top

Today, word came from inside the construction site of the GEMS Academy that the first phase of the private school is scheduled to top off December 2nd.  That’s the day the roof slab will be poured, as long as there aren’t any glitches caused by the weather or scheduling problems. Shortly after we put out word of the topping out date on our Facebook and Twitter feeds, Loop Spy Daniel sent in a fresh picture of the project,...

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Lakeshore East’s GEMS World Academy Inside and Out [Video]
Nov04

Lakeshore East’s GEMS World Academy Inside and Out [Video]

Friends-of-the-blog, bKL Architecture, sent over an animation showing off its new GEMS World Academy Chicago  now going up in Chicago’s Lakeshore East development. The video shows the Phase One building (350 East South Water Street) inside and out, including classrooms, gym, cafeteria, rooftop playground, and … wait for it … robotics lab.  When completed, the bKL-designed building will be nine-stories tall, 153 feet...

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Status Update: GEMS Academy in Lakeshore East
Oct29

Status Update: GEMS Academy in Lakeshore East

Just yesterday we were standing in the cold wind atop the retail and ballroom podium of Aqua, looking around and marveling at two things — First, how a tiny layer of stretchy fabric can make so many rooftop joggers believe they’re impervious to the weather; and second, at how quickly GEMS Academy’s private Lakeshore East school is growing. The first building of two is rapidly approaching maximum height, and its...

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