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 origins.  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 Architects


Erie Elementary Charter School

General Contractor

Norcon, Inc.


  • Goodfriend Magruder Structure LLC
  • dbHMS
  • Terra Engineering, Ltd.