GEMS World Academy Chicago: When Ugly Facades Happen to Good Buildings

GEMS World Academy Chicago: When Ugly Facades Happen to Good Buildings
Gems World Academy -


The K-4 building of GEMS World Academy is nearing completion.  While the school’s completion is sure to be a huge asset to the Lakeshore East community, the aesthetic is reminiscent of Helmut Jahn – but that in that unfortunate 1980s Thompson Center sort of way…

The Building

Designed by bKL Architecture, the 9 story K-4 school faces into  the Lakeshore East park.  With a whopping 82,000 sq ft,  even the plans are lofty.  They include a roof top “play area,” an auditorium, a gymnasium, a planetarium, and even a natatorium (translation: a fancy way to say “indoor pool”).

Upon completion they will seek LEED certification

According to bKL’s website:

“The curtain wall materials include clear vision glass, translucent glass, and metal panels of various widths and colors to set the facility apart from its other high rise neighbors in this mixed use area”

If they wanted to ensure it didn’t blend in, mission accomplished

About GEMS World Academy 

GEMS has 9 (soon to be 12) schools in the United Arab Emirates as well as locations in Egypt, Nairobi, Switzerland and Uganda.  In addition to the Chicago location, they are  opening schools in Singapore and India.  The Chicago location will be the first GEMS school in the US.

Side Note: A number curious parents have looked into enrollment at the Chicago location and many have been surprised by the tuition price tag (which is rumored to rival Chicago’s prestigious Latin School)

What Do We Make Of It?

Having a new school in Lakeshore East  is a huge asset to the New East side and the surrounding downtown.

Sadly, even before completion, the building looks dated.

By 2020 will it be “retro chic”?  One can only hope.

Need your fix from The Condoist?! Subscribe for email updates below. You can opt out at any time – but who would want to?!

Leave a comment