William Jones College Preparatory High School

Chicago, Illinois / United States of America

Located just south of the Loop in downtown Chicago, the replacement William Jones College Preparatory High School will serve 1200 students in grades 9 through 12 in a new 280,000-square-foot facility. Due to the compact urban site, the school’s functions are distributed vertically over seven occupied floors, rather than a low-rise horizontal layout typical of most schools. The building’s complex vertical stacking required a planning solution that kept students close to common spaces and shared curricula across multiple floors which are linked by wide daylit staircases that encourage interaction. A three-story lobby serves as the main public gathering space for the school and is the transitional space between school and city. The design organizes the building into two small learning communities of 600 students, one each on floors four and five. These two floors, central to the vertical organization of the school, provide optimum proximity to the shared curriculum spaces above (physical education) and below (media, performing arts, dining) while minimizing student travel distances. Each small learning community contains classrooms, informal break-out spaces, art, and science as well as teacher planning areas where faculty can model collaboration and strengthen relationships. The Auditorium is located off this lobby on Level 1 to allow easy public access, given the strong history of Performing Arts in the school. The Natatorium and Gymnasium sit at the top of the building to eliminate the structural premiums of occupied spaces above their long span requirements.

Architect of Record

Perkins+Will, Inc.

Associate Architect

The Architects Enterprise, Ltd.


Public Building Commission, Chicago Public Schools

General Contractor

Walsh Construction


  • Primera Engineers
  • Halvorson and Partners
  • Terra Engineering