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New Great Lakes Academy expansion will double the size of the school

Wheeler Kearns Architects designed the project.

April 14, 2021 |
Great Lakes Academy expansion exterior

All renderings courtesy Wheeler Kearns Architects

The new 130,000-sf expansion of Great Lakes Academy, a K-8 charter school in South Chicago, has begun construction. The expansion will more than double the size of the school.

The school’s current location, a three-story brick masonry building, will be connected to the neighboring building, a former Catholic Church, via a one-story glass link. Additions to the program will feature a multipurpose space that will serve as a gymnasium and include a regulation-sized basketball court, a volleyball court, and a climbing wall; a performance venue with a stage and green room; a cafeteria that will be separated from the gym by a flexible use divider curtain and provide enough space for half of the students to eat together; and a commercial kitchen with preparatory spaces and a training component that will allow over 600 meals to be served each day. Other new facilities will include a visual arts room, a combination library and makers-ace, and an artificial turf field with seating.


Great Lakes Academy expansion


The project will also expand outdoor spaces for lessons and recreation, incorporating elements like boulders, logs, and stumps to allow for immersive activity. A landscaped entry courtyard will become the school’s new entrance. Additionally, a green roof will reduce groundwater runoff, improve building thermal insulation, and lessen the urban heat island.


Great Lakes Academy Library and Makerspace


In addition to Wheeler Kearns Architects, the build team includes:

Bulley & Andrews: General Contractor

Enspect Engineering: Structural Engineer

Terra Engineering: Civil Engineer

Kettelkamp and Kettelkamp: Landscape Architect

IBC Engineering: MEP Engineer

Edge Associates: Kitchen Consultant

Shiner Acoustics: Acoustical Consultant


Great Lakes Academy cafeteria and gym


Great Lakes Academy sports fields and green space

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