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Downtown Chicago’s GEMS World Academy phase two is really happening

The upcoming 13-story educational building in Lakeshore East is in full site-prep mode

bKL Architecture

On the heels of chatter regarding the second phase of the GEMS World Academy project in downtown Chicago’s Lakeshore East community preparing to possibly break ground soon, it has been confirmed that the project is indeed moving forward. According to Chicago Construction News, equipment is present at the Wacker Drive parcel in preparation for the 13-story private school development. Despite no reports of the project receiving a recent construction permit, it turns out that the GEMS phase two is operating off of an older foundation permit dating back to early 2015.

Both the CCN post and a quick glance at the construction webcam for the neighboring Vista Tower project show crews digging at the GEMS site. Known as “potholing,” this sort of exploratory excavation work ensures that the future location of the building’s caissons are free of obstruction before drilling begins. It is typically the last step in site preparation before foundation construction begins in earnest.

Officially dubbed ‘GEMS World Academy Chicago Middle and Upper School,’ the bKL-designed project will house classrooms for grades five through twelve. The soon-to-rise building will compliment the existing GEMS ‘Lower School’ which opened at nearby 350 East South Water Street in 2014.

Vista Tower [center] and the GEMS phase two site [left].
Image via Vista Tower webcam