OWP|P - Ralph Ellison Campus, in Chicago, Illinois Print
Tuesday, 27 October 2009 08:06

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Ralph Ellison High School is named for the African-American writer whose novels and essays were transformative in the realms of literature, history and the African-American identity.


Located on the South Side of Chicago, CICS Ellison wants to a difference in the lives of students in Chicago, by offering its students “a college preparatory education emphasizing rigor, relevance, and responsible leadership”.

As explained by OWP|P, the design sought to reflect Ellison’s legacy in the design. The front elevation of the addition is a glass curtain wall sandblasted with a quote from Ralph Ellison. The text is visible both from the interior library and science spaces and from the exterior to passersby and the community.

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The original limestone building was built by the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1926 but was closed in 1994 as part of its consolidation efforts. It remained abandoned until the CICS Foundation purchased it shortly after 2002, after receiving a $4 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
0304The design of the academic building involved converting the elementary school into a high school by slightly modifying the classrooms and creating an addition to house administrative offices, a cafeteria, a library and science classrooms. Many of the existing walls, the wood trim and terrazzo were retained.
05The classrooms were designed with breakout areas to allow for independent learning or special attention. The art, music and gymnasium spaces provide areas for students to explore non-academic interests. The classrooms had large window openings, but 2/3 of the glazing was translucent and 1/3 was opaque. The new windows are thermally insulated and clear, bringing natural daylight into the classrooms, which increases student concentration and comfort.
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1012The project received a Citation from the 2009 CAE Educational Facility Design Awards.

Photographs courtesy of the AIA


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Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 October 2009 08:50