Project Completion Year
Project Location: City
Project Location: State
Project Location: Country
United States of America
Located in Chicago’s most extensive “park desert,” Mansueto High School transformed five and a half acres of industrial brownfield into a place of opportunity for Brighton Park families. The new 67,000sf school centers on a park-like quadrangle, presaging a college experience for its students, who are 98% minority and over 91% low-income.
Taut masonry facades along the streets, which relate to the historical context, transition to light gray metal panels on the quadrangle, which reflect images of trees and greenery. On two sides, window-lined corridors look out to the quad, where students and faculty can work at counters while overlooking the landscape. Multiple state-of-the-art science labs with floor-to-ceiling windows line the other sides of the quadrangle, which also serves as an outdoor learning space in good weather.
With a strong dose of natural light, classrooms are airy and have high ceilings floating above exposed ducts and piping. The double-height gymnasium, located on the east side of the quadrangle, is daylit from above by twelve skylights. Further east, a competition-size soccer field in encircled by a walking track that is shared with the community.
The school is designed and built to leverage Noble’s culture of high-expectations and their mission to educate underserved communities in a high-performing and effective environment that encourages success, both short-term and long-term.
Sustainable Design Intent and Innovation
Home to a former RC Cola bottling plant, the site was almost entirely paved, concealing many obstructions and environmental hazards that were unearthed during construction. An abandoned railroad spur, which traversed the entire site, and ten underground fuel tanks were removed along with abandoned foundation walls. The entire site was remediated in accordance with the IEPA Voluntary Site Remediation Program.
Rather than landfilling the broken concrete pavement and foundations, the material was crushed and recycled on site and used as aggregate bases for slabs, paving, and landscape berms. This obviated countless roundtrips of heavy trucks to and from a local landfill site, substantially reducing the project’s carbon footprint.
The exterior walls of the school were constructed with continuous insulation bridged by continuous fiberglass girts to eliminate typical thermal bridging of metal framing. This appreciably reduced heat loss in the exterior envelope. The girts support dark brick veneer along the street facades and metal panels on the quadrangle.
A dozen high-performance skylights, filled with translucent aerogel, day light the gymnasium, is used for assemblies, athletics, and physical education. The gymnasium is heated and cooled with a single-zone VAV rooftop equipped with demand control ventilation and economizers.
The rest of the school is heated and cooled with variable refrigerant flow (VRF) systems, which have proven extremely energy efficient. Every room has its own thermostat, giving occupants precise control of interior temperatures. Since the systems do not need large ductwork for recycling air, the entire volume of the school was reduced to save construction costs. Ventilation air, provided by a dedicated outdoor air system, is routed through modest-sized ducts located above the corridors to each room. Mansueto High School is one of the first schools in Chicago to employ these mechanical systems.
Rainwater harvested from the southern wing is diverted to irrigate the landscape on the campus. All other rainwater is stored in a layer of crushed stone beneath the artificial turf field and the south parking lot, where it can percolate back into the ground. The full-sized turf field is surrounded by a walking track, bordered on one side by a grass berm that doubles as outdoor seating for spectators.
Mansueto High School was designed using several strategies to minimize energy use. From the beginning of the project, the team worked together to design not only an envelope that was significantly better than energy code requirements but used systems that are more efficient, tool.
The mechanical design included a Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) system and a dedicated outdoor air system (DOAS) with energy recovery wheel to serve a majority of the building. The dedicated outdoor air unit included bypass dampers to allow for the air to go around the energy recovery wheel saving fan energy when outdoor and indoor air conditions are not optimal.
The gymnasium rooftop single zone VAV unit also includes an energy recovery wheel with bypass dampers and demand control ventilation. All spaces with high occupant capacity and variability were designed with demand control ventilation to reduce the amount of outside air delivered based on the number of people in the space. Only the amount of outside air needed to properly ventilate and maintain air quality is conditioned and brought to these spaces, therefore reducing overall fan energy.
The project utilized LED sources for both interior and exterior fixture, which are controlled to meet the latest energy code requirements. The lighting energy savings is 52% better than the ASHRAE baseline model, which translates to substantial overall building energy reductions. When compared to ASHRAE 90.1-2007, Mansueto High School boasts an energy cost reduction of greater than 30% and has a predicted EUI of 53 kBtu/sf/yr per Energy Star Target Finder.
Mansueto High School is growing capacity in an area marred by industrial disinvestment in the past, characterized by abandoned railroad tracks, shipping canals, and trucking facilities. The redeveloped site, which stood abandoned for six years, now has a new large green space in a community starved for it. Already, the new school is helping sustain a renaissance in the area. A new community health center is being constructed on bordering vacant lot. A medical office building is being constructed a half block away. A new restaurant is being constructed directly across the street.
The new school is strategically located to serve families living in the dense Brighton Park neighborhood, which overlaps with an industrial corridor. Nearby communities include Back of the Yards, Gage Park and Archer Heights. Mansueto High School serves a student population that is over 98% minority and 91% low-income.
Mansueto High School is the seventeenth campus of Chicago’s highest performing high school charter network. Any child living in Chicago can attend Mansueto for free. There are no other entrance requirements. Of Mansueto’s current 526 students, only 30 would be attending a school with an equivalent quality rating as determined by CPS. Students travel from 22 different high school zones located all over the City to attend Mansueto High School. In the 2017 high school selection process administered by CPS, 2,327 8th graders selected Mansueto High School somewhere on their application. This was for a single freshman class of 300 students.
The site is located at 2911 W. 47th Street and has a Walk Score of 78 out of 100, a Transit Score of 64 out of 100, and a Bike Score of 63 out of 100. The Kedzie-Orange Line station is 0.6 miles away or a 12-minute walk. Several bus lines are less than 0.5 miles away including the 52, 94, 51, and 47.
On weekends, the facility is used by the Relay Graduate School of Education, a partnering nonprofit organization, that offers teachers from all over the City an opportunity to pursue advanced degrees while they are actively teaching in local schools. In this way, Mansueto High School is a vertically integrated place for building human capital.
Before construction, the site was covered with concrete paving leftover from an industrial facility. That paving was demolished, crushed, and recycled on site. The majority of the recycled was used to construct a large storm water detention area under the new artificial turf field.
As required by the City of Chicago Department of Buildings, 69,389 cubic feet (CF) of storm water volume (based on the 100YR rain event, with Bulletin 70 rainfall intensities dictated by the City of Chicago) was either captured or managed on site to be released to the local sewer system in a controlled and steady manner to reduce the impact of this property on the neighboring community during rain events.
By including rainwater harvesting barrels in the project utility system, a collection of 604 CF (0.87%) of storm water is stored to be reused for irrigation purposes and reduced the total amount of water being conveyed to the city sewer network. The portion of the storm water not harvested was primarily detained beneath the athletic turf field in the void spaces of the aggregate base before being released to the public sewer. The silty clay composition of the soil beneath this stone base allowed for 2304 CF (3.32%) of the total detained water to infiltrate into the ground, further reducing the impact of the new construction on the local sewer system.
• Percent (%) precipitation managed on site - 1% of rainwater via the harvesting tanks for irrigation and 93% of rainwater via infiltration in the stone underneath the turf field.
• Percent (%) waste water reused on site - None
• Percent (%) annual regulated potable water use, gallons/sf/yr - 3.5 gallons/sf/yr
• Percent (%) regulated potable water reduction from baseline - 39%
For economy and durability, structural components remain exposed throughout much of Mansueto High School’s interior, obviating additional layers of finishes and coatings. The concrete floors of the corridors and science labs were ground and polished. Acoustical composite and non-composite steel decks remain exposed as ceilings where possible, to maximize heights while providing a reflective surface for indirect lighting fixtures floating below.
To improve interior acoustics of general purpose classrooms, floors are finished with carpet tiles from Interface that have backings and fibers manufactured from recycled and upcycled materials. Doors, worktops, and benches in the corridors are fabricated from domestic maple hardwood, finished with clear low-VOC coatings.
Mansueto High School is anticipated to be LEED certified with credits awarded for regionally selected materials, materials with high recycled content, reused materials, and exemplary construction waste management.
The most notable reuse of material was the recycling of the existing concrete pavement and abandoned foundations, which dramatically reduced the project’s carbon footprint.
Design Architect (FIRM)
Wheeler Kearns Architects