Construction Update
GEMS World Academy – C’mon Get Happy

GEMS Academy under construction

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 won’t streak or fade with time.  But still, the pattern is a little festive for some residents of Lakeshore East who like their buildings blue glass and beige concrete.

The private school topped out early this month, and the facade is now up to the fourth floor, revealing a design that’s something like a cross between a woven basket and the Partridge Family bus.  Or if you prefer to take the high road, think of it as an homage to Piet Mondrian’s Composition II in Red, Blue and Yellow.

Either way, friends-of-the-blog, bKL Architecture, tell us the colors were chosen to go with the leaves, fountains, grass, and other elements of Lakeshore East Park, which the building faces.  The building’s sister, which will go up on Wacker Drive, will have a similar pattern, but a bluer palette designed to honor the lake and the river, which it will face.

GEMS Academy under construction

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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