In North Chicago, IL, IFF is redeveloping Neal Math and Science Academy in partnership with the local school district, members of the community, and AbbVie – a $40 million project that is demonstrating the potential of public-private partnerships supported by technical experts to drive equitable community development.
The one-of-a-kind project will increase the size of the middle school, modernize the learning environment, boost graduation rates, and bring long-term stability to the school district and community. This is being accomplished by building a new, 86,280-square-foot facility that will include a blend of traditional classrooms, lab and maker spaces, venues for group learning, and individual learning spaces that will support teachers as they adjust learning plans to the specific needs of their students. After beginning construction in March 2021, the new facility is on track to open in November 2022.
After the new facility opens, the focus of the project will shift to the renovation of an existing 11,190-square-foot gymnasium, the demolition of the remaining sections of the old school, and a full restoration of the construction site that will include new landscaping and hardscaping to create a community plaza on the west side of the new school.
Since writing about the project last summer, there’s been tremendous progress at the project site, and we’re excited to share some of the construction highlights. Keep scrolling to see the new Neal take shape.
After site work was completed over the summer, foundation footings for the new facility were finished in September and the new Neal Math and Science Academy went vertical.
At an event with more than 100 members of the North Chicago community and the project team, attendees had the chance to sign a steel beam that would soon become part of the new facility’s framework.
In December, the beam signed by members of the North Chicago community was installed, topping off the structure for the new facility.
As winter began in earnest in the Chicago area, the new Neal Math and Science Academy was enclosed so that construction could continue uninterrupted. This enabled the project team to pour concrete decking and complete all five floor levels, allowing interior construction to move forward.
With the structure still enclosed, the project team made significant progress on the interior of the new facility. Work included framing for interior walls; the installation of mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems; and the near completion of a set of “learning stairs” that will be a focal point in the new school.
The arrival of warmer and dryer weather made it possible to remove the tarp enclosing the new facility, marking another project milestone and clearing the way for the eventual installation of windows and metal panels on the exterior of the building. While enclosed, construction continued inside the facility, with all mechanical, plumbing, and electrical systems completed, along with a portion of drywall installation. Using the partially completed building as a real-life model, the project team joined Neal Math and Science Academy’s sixth-grade science classes for lessons on building a structure and ensuring it’s weatherproof and well insulated.
The start of May marked the beginning of a sprint to the finish line for the project. Interior work continues as classrooms in the new school near completion and work on interior finishes begins. Vibrant metal panels are now being installed on the building’s exterior, along with window frames. Windows are expected to be installed by the end of the month, fully enclosing the building and moving it one step closer to opening.
To learn more about the redevelopment of Neal Math and Science Academy and how equitable community development principles have been applied to the project, click here. For additional information about the project and to subscribe to regular email updates, visit the New Neal website.