As work ramps up on the long-discussed second phase of the GEMS World Academy in Lakeshore East, updated images from bKL Architecture show how the educational building has evolved since 2014. The GEMS World Academy Middle-Upper School will now rise 13 stories compared to the 16 shown in earlier renderings.
A realignment of the building, set back from Wacker, creates an open space to bring more light to the tower levels. This gap will be bridged by stairs and an ADA-accessible ramp. The redesign also ditches a large insert balcony for a new landscaped rooftop space looking out over the Chicago River and Navy Pier.
New interior renderings also show off the communal spaces as well as educational amenities including a 500-seat auditorium, indoor gymnasium, two-story library, and digital theater and media workshop.
The development is expected to accommodate 1,440 students in grades 8 through 12, absorbing some of the older students from the existing GEMS K-9 Lower School at nearby 350 E. South Water Street. The combined two-building campus will ultimately serve up to 2,100 students. With middle school tuition currently running $34,000 a year, it’s safe to assume that a diploma from GEMS Upper School won’t come cheap.
Slated for a the narrow site between The Coast apartment development and the under-construction supertall Vista Tower, the building has under construction since mid-2017. A recent construction permit allowing crews to start erecting the school’s superstructure from Lower Wacker Drive to Upper Wacker Drive was issued Wednesday.
- New construction permit at 355 E. Wacker Drive [Chicago Cityscape]
- Is GEMS World Academy phase two is really happening? [Curbed Chicago]
- GEMS Upper School [bKL Architecture]