Located in a neighborhood with one of the highest drop-out rates in Chicago, Ill., Hansberry College Prep came about through a creative partnership between the Noble Network of Charter Schools and another not-for-profit organization.
With a long-term land lease and a philanthropic capital investment by Noble, the gymnasium building of a former Catholic school became the cornerstone of the new 1100-student high school. A single-story precast concrete addition, punctuated by three street-facing courtyards, quadrupled the size of the structure on a site formerly pockmarked by broken pavement and abandoned foundations.
The choice of a super-insulated precast concrete design provides high internal thermal mass to the structure. The thermal storage of this addition is so robust that it was not until the end of its first summer that the school realized that a major cooling unit, which was responsible for one third of the addition, was not functioning.
The buff-colored facade features three-dimensional vertical lines of varying widths to add a sense of height and interest to the one-story structure.
Total construction cost was $11.4 million, which translates to roughly $10,000 per seat. In comparison, the past four local district public high schools in Chicago were constructed for $80,000 to $90,000 per seat. Precast concrete was a key component of achieving this cost-effective durable structure, which will serve the students of Chicago for decades to come.