Text description provided by the architects. Located just south of the “Loop” in downtown Chicago, the replacement William Jones College Preparatory High School will serve 1,200 students in grades 9 through 12 in a new 278,000-square-foot facility. Due to the compact urban site, the design disperses the school’s functions vertically over seven occupied floors, rather than employing a low-rise horizontal layout typical of most schools.
Classroom spaces are located at the center of the school, on Levels 4 and 5, to provide optimum proximity to the shared curriculum spaces above and below. A central commons space opens up along the main student corridors, providing circulation relief and access to natural light.
At street level, a three-story lobby and pre-function space supports a 500- seat auditorium which can be shared with the public for after-hours use. A natatorium and gymnasium support athletic functions on the top floorand provide views to Lake Michigan and Grant Park to the east. Parking for approximately 70 cars is provided below the building.
To encourage the use of stairways, rather than elevators, stairwells are widened to support student interaction and also feature abundant natural light and views. Additionally, terraces off of the dining center on level 2, the library on level 3 and the athletic spaces at level 7 provide an outdoor amenity and help to break down the mass of the building. The project is pursuing LEED Gold certification.