Galewood Elementary School Detail

Chicago, Illinois / United States of America

Sometimes a project’s defining detail is the complete integration of form, space, and material. That’s the case with the Galewood Elementary School’s “Skyspace” digital library, whose curving three-story-tall profile forms a distinctive beacon for Chicago’s West Side Austin neighborhood, a technologically advanced academic hub within the school building, and uses wood in a distinctly innovative manner that provides a warm and nurturing interior.

The Skyspace is a digital library and the soaring double-height volume signifies the community’s aspirations that its students “reach for the sky.” Fully glazed on the east and west facades, the sloped south elevation is clad in wood veneer phenolic resin rain-screen panels. Restrictive contemporary building codes limit the available palette of materials, making the creation of warm school environments more difficult than in the past. The architects worked with the rigorous City of Chicago Standards and Testing process to introduce code-compliant wood exterior panels—the first such use of wood in an institutional building within the city’s borders in almost a century.

Proof that this material meets all applicable NFPA requirements for a one hour exterior wall composition per City of Chicago Code provides architects more choices in the future.

Architect of Record

UrbanWorks, Ltd.


FH Paschen

General Contractor

FH Paschen


  • CE Anderson and Associates
  • CivCon Services
  • Eco Vidal Design