With school closings and layoffs dominating headlines in regards to Chicago Public Schools, it's easy to overlook where new construction is occurring. Construction of public buildings, such as those owned by the Board of Education, is often facilitated by the Chicago Public Building Commission, which currently has 15 school projects underway, ranging from parking lot construction to entirely new buildings. Among the new buildings is a new elementary school in the West Lawn Neighborhood. Designed by STR Partners and presently labeled as simply the Southwest Area School, the building has begun to rise as steel framing for the new three-story structure is being assembled on the site located at West 60th Street and South Karlov Avenue. The full block site had long been owned by the Board of Education, serving as a multi-purpose athletic fields for nearby Hubbard High School. Athletic facilities will return, but will be consolidated onto the southern two-thirds of the site while the new school takes shape on the northern edge of the block.
The new school will span 135,000 square feet and has a design capacity for 1,500 students. The masonry clad facade will have splashes of color provided through the use of gazed brick accents, which should fit right into the neighborhood which has plenty of small buildings with viva la '60s retro architecture. Completion of the athletic fields is expected for November, while the school building should be ready for occupancy next year.
— Shawn Ursini