Construction Update
GEMS Earns Its Stripes

GEMS Academy under construction

The exterior work on GEMS Academy in Lakeshore East (350 East South Water Street) is approaching completion. Most of the exterior glass and colored metal panels are in place, and we can get a good idea of what the finished building will look like without having to squint.

GEMS Academy under constructionOver the weekend, construction crews using a contraption that appeared to be a combination of a swamp fan boat and a garden hose were creating a tiny simulated hurricane, testing the windows to make sure they keep the outside out.

One interesting feature of the building, intentional or not, is that it appears the HVAC system vents onto the sidewalk in front of the building.  If that’s true, it means that when it’s 25 degrees outside, 70ish-degree air will blow out front and down onto the sidewalk.  The airflow might be enough to help melt ice and snow.  It wold be an interesting green snow-fighting solution that could cut down on the use of salt and other winter chemicals.

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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