New Jones College Prep building to be built by 2013
January 7, 2011
The new Jones College Prep building will offer modern amenities and allow increased enrollment.

By Marie Balice Ward

Jones College Preparatory High School officials, local leaders, and area residents discussed details of the school’s new building at a recent community meeting.

Plans for the building began in the late 1990s “with the idea of adding a gym” explained Jones’s principal, Joseph Powers, but the project “evolved into constructing a brand new structure.”

Workers will construct Jones College Prep’s new seven-story facility immediately south of the existing school, which is located at 606 S. State St. The new site will extend to Polk Street, and the building will provide 278,000 square feet plus a lower level for parking that will hold 67 vehicles.

“The estimated construction value of the school is $85 million,” explained Erin Lavin Cabonargi, executive director of the Public Building Commission of Chicago. “This figure does not include architectural fees, etc.”

Second Ward Alderman Robert Fioretti stated, “Improving education has consistently been one of my top priorities, and this evening we celebrate this new building.” After expressing gratitude to the many people making the project possible, Fioretti said the project is using TIF funds because the new school will include a neighborhood-use component.

Jones’s current enrollment is 850; the new school will accommodate 1,200 students, with the additional 350 slots designated for neighborhood students. Students must undergo testing before admission.

Cabonargi said Jones’s principal would lead a group that will design the neighborhood component program; a Chicago Public School (CPS) team that includes Jose Alvarez, CPS officer for school relations, will participate. The group will present the program to the community for review late this spring.

In addition, the new Jones building will be available for use by neighborhood residents on weekends and off-hours; school employees can maintain site security by “locking off” floors that are not in use.

The façade will sport a colonnade along State Street on its south end. The school also will feature a gymnasium; a natatorium with a six-lane pool; a fitness and weight room available for community use; an auditorium with separate scene shop, dressing rooms, and green room; nurse and student support services; kitchen and dining facilities; and a computer network with wi-fi.

Cabonargi noted the site, at minimum, will be LEED silver certified, with a reflective and green roof, multiple terraces, a reading garden, and a wider “green” dedicated alley that may include pavers.

When asked about the current school, Cabonargi said CPS has not set plans either to demolish it or recycle it for a different use. For now, “it cannot be ruled out that the property would be sold to a developer,” she said. “However, that option is not probable, and community input would be sought.”

To assuage some audience skepticism about construction timing, Cabonargi affirmed CPS has established a schedule calling for work on the foundation to start this April, with the vertical construction to begin in September. The new Jones College Preparatory High School opening currently is set for September 2013.

The architect of record is Perkins + Will, and the construction manager is Bovis Lend Lease. For information and updates about construction, log on to www.pbcchicago.com and www.jonescollegeprep.org.