Status Update: Big Places in Tiny Spaces
Jul24

Status Update: Big Places in Tiny Spaces

Construction crews continue working at 66 East Wacker Place, trying to jam a 26-story Hilton Garden Inn into a space only slightly larger than a mouse.  Thanks to Loop Spy Daniel for sending in this picture of the progress. The developer, GDS Companies, and its architect, GREC Architects, see no problem with the plan to stuff the limited-service hotel in the limited space between the 17th Church of Christ, Scientist and the Chicago...

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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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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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A Loop Hotel That’s More Than Just a Place to Hang Your Hat
Dec02

A Loop Hotel That’s More Than Just a Place to Hang Your Hat

Hotel Monaco Chicago (225 North Wabash Avenue), part of the Kimpton chain, is an award-winning boutique hotel with a phenomenal location and accompanying views.  The interior is colorfully pretty and cozily chic.  My recent visit and tour with the concierge made me want to return for an extended stay. While some Chicago hotels revel in their historic design and traditions, the Hotel Monaco—occupying a century-old building—feels...

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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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It’s a GEMS of a Crane
Aug05

It’s a GEMS of a Crane

  Recently we posted a photograph showing a little stub of a crane sprouting toward the west end of the incredibly tight construction site for the new GEMS Academy elementary school at Lakeshore East.  Since then, it’s blossomed into a full tower crane with wide arms and a Crayola yellow paint job. A clever Loop Spy who lives next door at The Tides (360 East South Water Street) used his iPhone’s panorama function to take a...

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Status Update: C is for Crane
Jul22

Status Update: C is for Crane

The Ballet of Improbable Engineering has wrapped up at the future site of GEMS Academy Lakeshore East Phase I (350 East South Water Street).  For the last month, an unlikely number of burly, yellow machines have pirouetted around the very tiny plot of land where this school will soon sprout, drilling holes, caging rebar, pouring concrete, and generally doing all of the things necessary to build enough underground caissons to support a...

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Status Update: GEMS Academy at Lakeshore East Now Under Construction
Jun17

Status Update: GEMS Academy at Lakeshore East Now Under Construction

Lakeshore East’s controversial private school has broken ground. GEMS Academy is putting up two school buildings in the downtown enclave near the southwest corner of the Chicago River and Lake Michigan.  The first, now officially under construction, will be nine-stories, faces East South Water Street, and is for the K-4 students. The second building, behind the first on East Wacker Drive, will be 16 stories tall, and have...

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