Neal Math and Science Academy
Chicago, IL, United States
In 2019, AbbVie Pharmaceuticals announced a $40 million donation to support the redevelopment of the North Chicago School District 187. Therefore, the JGMA team proposed a design that aims to equally enhance the positive change in this community. The design represents an opportunity to truly transform the area comprised predominantly of Latino and African American families that have seen little to no investments for decades. Thus, the project is a beacon of hope literally and figuratively for the children and families of North Chicago. The vertical orientation of the design was inspired by their desire to see and be seen and no longer be invisible. Overall, the five-story building reflects the pride and strength of the community, proudly standing tall together.
The middle school was intentionally designed so that its height crested above any of the surrounding buildings, and includes a new sports field, multiple outdoor learning spaces, and completely re-engineered pick-up and drop-off loops. Inside, the school is conceived around “Main Street” spaces and interactions. Centralized nodes which promote connection and togetherness for all middle schoolers and staff. The building’s verticality allows all the classrooms to have views of the surrounding neighborhood and ample natural light coming through the expansive ribbon windows punctuating the double gradient façade. The exterior design is intentional in the use of colorful shades and tints, celebrating the diversity within and the strength of the community as a whole.
The combined is a colorful, rhythmic, and inclusive design which encourages an active learning atmosphere on the inside and out. Aiming to set a new standard of how teaching and learning spaces can uplift the traditional education systems.