prototype: John Ronan Architects   |   architect: STLarchitects   |   design director:  Jose Luis Perez-Griffo    photography: Ignacio Espigares

Chicago, Illinois, USA

BACK OF THE YARDS High School

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This project is one of the prototypes designed by John Ronan Office for the city of Chicago. Its implementation in the Back of the Yards neighborhood in Chicago was done by STLarchitects.

The school consisted of three different programmatic volumes. One educational, called “Mind,” one for physical activities called “Body” and a third one for the Arts Program called “Soul.” A continuous masonry wall wrapped all three volumes.

STLarchitects’ improvements to the project were mostly in the daylighting factor of the rooms. The adapted design increased the percentage of natural light reaching the work surfaces of the students. The site presented contaminated soils which had to be carefully re-mediated.

One of the features that make STLarchitects’ project unique is the brick design for the masonry wall construction. We used 16x8x4 inch bricks aiming for higher efficiency. They are placed in a third running bond in the sailor position. There are three types of bricks. One without scorings, another with one scoring, and a third with two scorings. They are laid randomly creating a homogenous, yet vibrant, texture for the wall. By doing this, the required control joints every twenty-five feet are well blended and nearly unnoticeable.