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Great Lakes Academy

Charter school in Chicago completes renovation

Dec. 27, 2021
The improvements at Great Lakes Academy have nearly doubled the size of its campus.

Great Lakes Academy, a K-8 charter school on Chicago's Southeast Side, has completed a 75,000 square-foot renovation and expansion.

The adaptive reuse project doubled the size of the campus by renovating an unused church building adjacent to the existing academic building. The buildings have been connected by installing a single-story glass link. The link mediates between the solidity of the historic school and church buildings, which date back to 1911 and 1952, respectively.

The former Church of St. Mary Magdalene, which closed in 2015, now serves as a flexible multipurpose space. The south half of the building is a gym and performance space; it has a regulation-sized basketball court, volleyball court, climbing wall, stage, and green room.

The north half of the building, separated by a sliding curtain, houses a cafeteria that will serve over 600 breakfasts and lunches each day. Other new facilities on the campus include a visual arts room, library, maker space, and an artificial turf field with seating.

Outdoor spaces around the campus are designed for immersive activity. They support learning by encouraging exploration and incorporating natural elements like boulders from a nearby Midwestern quarry.

The architect is Wheeler Kearns Architects.

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy, senior editor, has written for AS&U on a wide range of educational issues since 1999.

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