Chicago Vocational renovation project moves forward

But a major chunk of the school would be demolished.

July 17, 2013

A significant portion of Chicago Vocational Career Academy, an architecturally-important building that is the city's second-largest public school, would be demolished as part of a $42 million bid to turn the structure into a tech academy. 
 
According to Chicago Public Building Commission documents, the school's block-and-a-half long, 150,000 square foot wing along Anthony Avenue — the portion of the school seen by scores of Chicago Skyway drivers each day — would be razed. A hangar that once housed the school's aviation shop would also be demolished. The remainder of the school and its exterior would be rehabilitated.
 
The PBC on Monday issued a request for qualifications seeking contractors who can handle the three-phase overhaul of the former Chicago Vocational High School at 2100 E. 87th St.  When the dust clears, the school would become a six-year school with a curriculum focusing on science, technology, engineering and math.
 
The school was designed for 6,000 students so downsizing is in order. Still, seeing more than a third of the delta-shaped late Art Deco-designed school vanish would be a bit startling. Built in 1940 for $3.5 million, the 27-acre school is a big, beautiful complex rendered in a blocky, WPA-modern esthetic.
 
"Its sheer massiveness is one of the things that most impressed me," said Lisa DiChiera, advocacy director for the preservation organization Landmarks Illinois. Here's a section of the 87th Street portion of the school. This wing will be preserved:
And the main entrance:
Contractor submittals are due by July 31, according to the PBC.