An International Preschool-Grade 12 Academy 

GEMS Building Wins Prestigious Award


GEMS World Academy Chicago's striking vertical school building has received the prestigious Mies van der Rohe Citation of Merit for Innovation from the Illinois chapter of the American Institute of Architects. It is one of several accolades the building has received from the architectural community.

The AIA Illinois jury said the following about our building: "The design showed real creativity by inserting a complex educational facility in a dense urban context that required a vertical, rather than the typical horizontal solution. The facade brings a playful expression of its education program to the community's attention."

The Mies van der Rohe Citation of Merit for Innovation is one of five design awards that AIA Illinois presents every year.

Representatives from AIA Illinois, GEMS Education and bKL Architecture, the firm that designed the building, met with students and teachers during a special ceremony at the school designed to highlight the award. The speakers talked about the school's distinctive colorful facade, its innovative vertical layout and its sustainability features. 

They also talked more generally about the value of architecture, and the role that Chicago has played in it. 

"Chicago is the birthplace of American architecture," said Mike Waldinger, executive vice president of AIA Illinois. "We're not copying other countries."

Students and teachers alike said they were fascinated by the discussion and inspired to explore other examples of architecture and innovative design throughout the city. 

In addition to the Mies van der Rohe Citation of Merit, the GEMS school building also has received an Award of Merit in the K-12 Education category of the annual Engineering News Record (ENR) Midwest's Best Projects Competition. It was profiled in the January 2016 issue of Architectural Record. On Oct. 15 and 16, it will be a featured site of the Open House Chicago Architectural Tour for the second year in a row. 

See pictures from the ceremony at the school below. More photos can be found on our Facebook page





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