Chicago International Charter School
Ralph Ellison Campus
Named for a writer whose novels and essays were transformative in the realms of literature, history, and the African-American identity, Ralph Ellison High School is designed to reflect his legacy. A glass curtainwall on the addition’s front elevation sandblasted with a Ralph Ellison quote makes the text visible both from interior spaces and to the passersby and the community outside. The original limestone building, built by the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1926, was closed in 1994 during the Archdiocese’s consolidation and remained abandoned until 2002, when the CICS Foundation purchased it with a $4 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The design of the academic building involved converting the elementary school into a high school by slightly modifying the classrooms and creating an addition to house administrative offices, a cafeteria, a library, and science classrooms. Many of the existing walls and much of the wood trim and terrazzo were retained. Classrooms were designed with breakout areas for independent learning or small-group instruction. Nonacademic areas include art and music spaces and a gymnasium.
Award of Distinction
IASB/IASA/IASBO Excellence in the Design of Educational Environments
Award of Merit
Shirley Cooper & Walter Taylor Award Citation
Jim Steinkamp/Steinkamp Photography