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Mansueto High School

With the Mansueto High School, Noble Network of Charter Schools has transformed 5.5 acres of industrial brownfield in Chicago’s largest “park desert” into a place of great opportunity for its students (comprising of 98% minority and over 91% low-income.) The school’s mission starts with creating a culture for students where the only option is success, both short and long-term.

The 67,000-sq. ft. two-story school structure supports this goal with a dark brick exterior and a light, gray metal panel interior that wraps almost completely around a landscaped courtyard, which emulates a college quadrangle. Students enter the campus through a cluster of trees. As they leave behind the noise and hustle of 47th Street, the environment becomes calm and quiet. Inside, the hallways on both floors are lined with white lockers and walls—except where classroom entrances and water fountains are marked by bright yellow. All classrooms are airy, with high ceilings, exposed mechanicals, and a strong dose of natural light; sky lights in the gymnasium amplify this effect. Multiple state-of-the art science labs have floor-to-ceiling glass windows that look out onto the courtyard—which also serves as another teaching environment.

The project was constructed as a slab-on-grade building with a steel braced frame structure and a metal stud framed continuous perimeter wall. The vertical light gray aluminum composite panels (ACM) were installed with GreenGirt clips (proving an insulation system free of metal-thermal bridging) over 4” mineral wool insulation, resulting in a thermal envelope with significantly reduced areas of thermal conductivity

Environmentally progressive materials and design features are apparent throughout the LEED Certified building and landscaping. High-performance skylights and windows diffuse daylight into classrooms and provide views to the courtyard and across the building. All spaces (excluding the gymnasium) are mechanically heated and cooled using a variable refrigerant flow (VRF) system which is extremely energy efficient, leading to energy savings and reduced operations costs. The project is one of the first schools in Chicago to employ this mechanical system.

A rainwater harvesting system from the southern roof provides passive irrigation for the campus, and additional stormwater detention occurs under the turf soccer field and the south parking lot. Rather than diverting the extensive amount of existing concrete pavement on site to landfill, the material was recycled and reused on site as backfill under slab sub-grade and landscape berms. The asphalt pavement was manufactured with the highest percentage of recycled content allowed by the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Mansueto High School is a place of new growth for a community marred by commercial disinvestment, abandoned railroad tracks, shipping canals, and trucking facilities. The new school is benefiting Chicago’s Southwest side community with quality education opportunities for 1,200 students, many of who were previously traveling long distances to attend another Noble campus. Additionally, the facility is used on the weekends by the Relay Graduate School of Education, a nonprofit organization that provides professional development and leadership skills training to educators.

General Contractor: Bulley & Andrews
Structural Engineer: Thornton Tomasetti
MEP Engineer: Primera Engineers
Civil & Traffic Engineer: TERRA Engineering
Landscape Architect: site design group
Acoustical Consultant: Threshold Acoustics
Kitchen Design: Edge Associates
AV/Security Design: Smith Seckman Reid, Inc.
Drone Photography: Soaring Badger and Bulley & Andrews
Photography: Steve Hall, Hall + Merrick Photographers