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Second GEMS school building preparing for construction in Chicago’s Lakeshore East?

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Phase two of the private school’s urban campus is reportedly moving forward

bKL Architecture
bKL Architecture

It’s been a while since any meaningful news surfaced regarding the second phase of the GEMS World Academy project in downtown Chicago’s Lakeshore East community. First revealed several years ago, the 16-story Wacker Drive project would contain 85,000 square feet of private classrooms serving students in grades five through twelve. After a couple years of dormancy, a recent post by Chicago Architecture Blog suggests that the project is in fact “under construction.”

While the report cites a letter from GEMS Americas CEO Denise Gallucci as the source of the information, no recent permits have been issued for the narrow site wedged between the residential tower known as The Coast and the construction site of the 94-story Vista Tower. For many months the site of the future school was being used as a staging area by the Vista crew. A quick look on the supertall tower’s webcam shows a recent decluttering of the GEMS parcel—perhaps another clue that construction on the phase two building is imminent.

Designed in the nearby offices of bKL Architecture, the project is officially known as the ‘GEMS World Academy Chicago Middle and Upper School.’ The proposed building would supplement the current GEMS ‘lower school’ at 350 East South Water Street. With Vista racing skyward, 2,000 new residential units and 900 hotel rooms planned for four new towers at parcels I, J, K, L, and O, and GEMS supposedly gearing up for construction, the final pieces of the Lakeshore East puzzle are finally falling into place.