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 ground and polished finish ennobles the concrete panels and transforms an otherwise commonplace building component into a playful but dignified façade.

A gymnasium and recreation room on the third level are stacked over library, classroom and computer lab spaces, which serve the community on the first two floors. Making full use of its space-limited urban site, a rooftop playground enables students to view down into the street below; in this way the children become the school's identity.

Materials in this LEED Silver-building are chosen for their cost, durability and sustainability, with a high percentage of locally-manufactured, extracted and processed materials (precast concrete, concrete slab and blocks) constituting the major building elements, and finishes containing recycled content. School drop off preferences fuel-efficient vehicles and the school's "green" roof minimizes the building's contribution to the urban heat island effect.

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