Erie Elementary Charter School

Chicago, Illinois / United States of America

Precast concrete panels stacked like blocks lend a playful character to this elementary school addition in Chicago. Responding to the owner's modest budget, the project's colored panels turn the school into a learning tool, its tectonic expression of stacked elements explains the way loads are carried to the ground in a way that can be understood by young school children.

The architect enlisted a terrazzo company to grind the panels at the precasting facility, giving the economical material an elegant polished finish that belies its industrial nature. The ground and polished finish ennobles the concrete panels and transforms an otherwise commonplace building component into a playful but dignified façade. The panels' smooth finish enables easy removal of graffiti, which the neighborhood is prone to.

Colors were chosen to coordinate with the existing school building but offer the addition a new identity and speak to its rebirth as a charter school.

Architect of record

John Ronan
John Ronan Architects
420 West Huron Street
Chicago, IL 60654, USA
Phone: 312-951-6600
Fax: 312-951-6544

General contractor

Jeff Jozwiak
Norcon, Inc.
661 West Ohio Street
Chicago, IL 60654, USA
Phone: 312-715-9200

Consultant 1

Bob Magruder
Goodfriend Magruder Structure LLC
53 West Jackson Boulevard, Suite 352
Chicago, IL 60604, USA
Phone: 312-265-2645

Consultant 2

Sachin Anand
303 West Erie Street
Chicago, IL 60654, USA
Phone: 312-915-0557

Consultant 3

Danielle Kowalewski
Terra Engineering, Ltd.
225 West Ohio Street, 4th Floor
Chicago, IL 60654, USA
Phone: 312-467-0123


Steve Hall
Hedrich Blessing Photographers
400 North Peoria Street
Chicago, IL 60642, USA
Phone: 312-491-1101