By Eric Althoff
CHICAGO—The Hispanic American Construction Industry Association has awarded its Project of the Year award to the design team behind Chicago Public Schools’ John Hancock College Preparatory High School. The project team, which included Legat Architects, UrbanWorks, KRM/ALL Joint Venture and RME Engineering, was recognized for its focus on building a diverse team.
According to an announcement by Legat, the 178,000-square-foot high school, which replaced another hundred-year-old school on the same site, is the only new school built within the Chicago Public Schools’ district in the past year.
The project’s diverse bona fides included meeting or exceeding benchmarks set for Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) and Women Business Enterprise (WBE) involvement and minority workforce participation. Furthermore, the Hispanic American Construction Industry Association noted that the team worked on inclusion throughout the design and construction of the school, including by hosting bilingual meetings with families throughout the district and hiring minority-owned businesses. UrbanWorks is a minority woman-owned firm and K.R. Miller Contractors and A.L.L. Masonry Construction Co. are both minority-owned firms.
Legat project architect Loren Johnson said in a statement released by the firm that the design-build nature of the school allowed the designers to tackle many of the problems in the drawing room before they became issues on the jobsite itself.
“On a publicly funded project, this rare opportunity aligned expectations, confirmed assumptions, and reduced the risk of unexpected results,” said Johnson.
Ground was broken for the school in April 2019, and even with several pandemic-related delays, it was still finished on time.