Another GEMS Rising on the Lakeshore

Rendering of GEMS Upper School, courtesy of bKL Architecture

Rendering of GEMS Upper School, courtesy of bKL Architecture

If things aren’t already muddy over at 355 East Wacker Drive, they soon will be. That’s because the first round of permits have been issued for the second GEMS World Academy hoohool building at Lakeshore East. The foundation permits were issued a few weeks ago for the school building designed by friends-of-the-blog, bKL Architecture.

Gems Phase II – Foundation systems only for proposed 13-story grade 5 – 12 school with green roof

This 13-story building is for students in fifth through 12th grades. Its companion building, which opened last fall, is for pre-K through fourth graders. Groundbreaking ceremonies for the new building were held in late March.

Visually, the buildings are similar on the outside, arranged as a large block covered with metal panels of varying colors. But while the first building’s color palette matches the park that it faces, this building faces the Chicago River and Lake Michigan, so its palette has been adjusted to match that scenery.

You may remember our extensive pre-opening tour of the first classroom building, which was impressively kitted out with all kinds of cutting-edge design touches from an abundance of natural light to video screens in the hallways carrying live feeds of the hallways of the GEMS sister schools around the world.

This $11 million building will be similarly endowed with the best the brightest can afford, including a gymnasium, auditorium, indoor pool, and a rooftop play area.

Location: 355 East Wacker Drive, The Loop

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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