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Exelon Gymnasium 3645 W Chicago Avenue


Exelon Gymnasium Project Type: Gymnasium / Educational Year Completed: 2011 Location: West Humboldt Park, Chicago Square Footage - 12,400 Construction Budget - $3,733,931 ($301 / sf) Schedule - Programming / Schematic Design - May 2010 - July 2010 Construction - December 2010 - August 2011


Built on a vacant lot in the City’s West Humboldt Park neighborhood, the Exelon Gymnasium is changing the daily lives of 590 students of the Noble Network of Charter Schools’ Rowe Clark Math & Science Academy campus. In addition to providing students with the network’s first high-school regulation basketball and volleyball courts, the space hosts monthly “Town Hall” assemblies which celebrate student leadership and academic achievement. Unlike a typical gymnasium where visitors and home teams are seated on opposite sides of the court, a single set of telescoping bleachers are situated to one side of the court.

In basketball mode, the bleachers partially extend to the sideline to seat 400 visitors. In “Town Hall” assembly mode, the bleachers extend over the court to seat all 590 students along with invited guests. A 22-foot wide projection screen drops along the opposite wall creating a defacto stage where video, music, and spoken word performances can be held.


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entry maintenance women’s restroom women’s / visitor locker room family restroom men’s restroom men’s / home locker room storage room mechanical access retractable bleachers competition size basketball / volleyball court emergency exit


The building’s entry is defined by a sculptural perforated metal screen that helps both define the gym’s entrance and provide a visual stimulant to the subdued precast concrete shell. The ceiling of the gymnasium is comprised of twenty-four light reflective coffers each crowned by a 4 foot square high-efficiency skylight. These unique coffers amplify the daylight, absorb noise, conceal the mechanical systems and host the speakers for the Audio visual system. In order to avoid shadows on the court, the glass in each skylight is filled with an aerogel that insulates and diffuses the light. A clerestory window, seen above the top of the bleachers, allows a view to the northern sky. Motorized shades in the skylights are drawn to darken the space during presentations.

The gymnasium will save over 40% of the energy consumed by a comparable structure built to comply with modern energy codes. Sustainable strategies in the project include a green roof, a super-insulated envelope with high internal thermal mass, diffused daylighting, and heat recovery ventilation. The gym and the school share a sophisticated lighting control system that will allow both to collect energy savings from daylight harvesting and occupancy sensors. The shared parking lot is illuminated with LED fixtures that stay dim at night to save energy illuminating as someone approaches.


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aerogel filled skylight units structural skylight opening framing motorized shade 1 1/2” tectum panel coffers light fixture track and hvac diffuser fluorescent light fixture (beyond) 3 1/2” metal deck 6” rigid insulation green roof trays

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main school building front entry court, vacated alley main entry perforated metal entry “eyebrow” mechanical equipment white reflective roof intelligent skylights planted apple tree row in vacated alley open downspout ‘waterfall’ planted ‘green’ wall new alley / parking aisle permeable paved shared parking

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Credits: Client: Noble Network of Charter Schools 1N State St. Chicago, IL 60602 v: 312.521.5287 Architect: Wheeler Kearns Architects 343 S Dearborn St. Suite 200 Chicago, IL 60604 v: 312.939.7787 General Contractor: Bulley & Andrews 1755 W Armitage Avenue Chicago, IL 60622 v: 773.235.2471 Photography: Mark Ballogg, Ballogg Photography 1459 West Cortez Chicago, IL 60622 v: 773.772.1507 Tom Bader, Wheeler Kearns Architects (Cover Image)


Profile for Wheeler Kearns Architects

Exelon Gymnasium  

Built on a vacant lot in a Chicago neighborhood struggling with the effects of poverty and crime, the Exelon Gymnasium is changing the daily...

Exelon Gymnasium  

Built on a vacant lot in a Chicago neighborhood struggling with the effects of poverty and crime, the Exelon Gymnasium is changing the daily...

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