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Chicago Public Schools &
Public Building Commission of Chicago




113,974 SF

Completion Date


Key Staff

Kenneth Schroeder, Director
Todd Niemiec, Project Manager
Molly Kinsella, Project Architect

The Edward K. "Duke" Ellington Elementary School was constructed as a new three-story, 900 student elementary school on Chicago’s West Side. Construction documents were completed in less than three months and contractor bids were grouped within a 2.5% range. Construction began in September, 2003 and was completed within 12 months.

The original Chicago Public Schools prototype design was enhanced with building envelope details such as special lighting, color and a landscape plan that emphasizes Ellington’s contribution to music. The two-story entry canopy is highlighted by ground lighting, a sidewalk pattern featuring a playful display of musical notes etched into the sidewalk, and carefully placed ornamental trees.

Building features include 38 classrooms, multi-purpose room, library with instruction space, gymnasium with stage, dining room and kitchen. Way-finding is achieved through color, pattern, and material detailing. Musical motifs employed include floor-patterned piano keys, staff and musical references, and a replica of the famous Ellington Orchestra bass drum in the entry lobby. These details add life and identity to the prototype design and provide an educational opportunity to the staff and students.

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