bKL’s GEMS World Academy, Lower School

SHOT BYMaxamillian Studio


CATEGORYAds & Corporate


GEMS World Academy is a private K–12 school in Chicago’s Lakeshore East Community. The two-building vertical campus marries GEMS’ program with local requirements, creating a new model for a high-rise school in an arena of limited precedents. The use of state-of-the art technology enables students to collaborate with classrooms throughout the world, providing an international perspective on education.

The Lower School houses 660 students within 10 stories on a limited site. Juxtaposed against an adjacent park, the playful exterior is a modernist composition of interlacing colored panels and glass. The configuration responds to internal program elements while rationalizing the construction, allowing for fast-paced fabrication.

Organized to reduce travel times, the common areas are stacked centrally. Interior architecture is driven by flexibility, optimized floor area, connectivity, daylight and views. The design responds to the unique site constraints, provides a variety of spatial experiences, and makes strategic use of color and materials while maintaining a consistent approach to detailing.


Video Production:
Drone Work:
Music: Dalen Wuest