The Chicago City Council has approved a new school facility for Epic Academy. Located at 8231 S. South Shore, the new school will occupy the former St. Michael’s school building and see the construction of an addition on its north side, replacing two residential properties. To the south, a one-story auxiliary building and three-story convent will be demolished.
With the goal of creating a state-of-the-art school, architects JGMA have led the design process using the history and the past as a springboard for the future. Their design holds the former school in high regard while creating a new experience for the students with the new four-story addition on the north side of the building. The new addition includes a new entry to connect with the community and underscore the new feeling for students.
Programmatically, the addition holds spaces that will connect the school with the community and families, while most of the classrooms will stay in the original building. The gymnasium has been elevated to the top of the building to bring people up and connect with the community while capitalizing on the view as an amenity.
With the new addition designed in the round, all facades will be clad in a terracotta rainscreen system that adds a vertical rhythm inspired by the existing building. As it presents itself to the neighborhood and the students, the new building entry is inset at an angle, creating a dynamic new entry space.
Considering sustainability, the building will meet LEED Silver or better in addition to other strategies to meet the city’s sustainable development requirements. Strategies include exceeding energy code, providing solar panels on the roof, exceeding the stormwater ordinance, planting trees, installing green roofs, reducing the indoor water use, providing bike parking, including bird protection, and being in proximity to transit.
The project is currently in the design development phase, with acquisition of the site contingent on the now-approved zoning change. Due to significant water infiltration, roofers will be brought in to stabilize the building as soon as possible. While the fundraising process is still ongoing, the school hopes to be in the building by 2024 or 2025.