These aerogel-filled skylights help bring daylight to 90% of the gym’s spaces without the typical energy loss. The gym uses 56% less energy than a comparable baseline building.

Winner of an AIA Chicago Design Excellence award for its high-performance skylights, which help light 90 percent of the space, this gymnasium and gathering space in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood provides the Rowe Clark Math & Science Academy a LEED Gold facility for both athletics and academics. The unique ceiling, designed by Larry Kearns of Wheeler Kearns Architects, not only provides daylight but also absorbs noise and conceals the mechanical systems and audiovisual equipment. Massive concrete walls create a super-insulated envelope, and heat recovery and occupancy sensors further conserve energy. Most importantly, the gym has raised the profile of the struggling charter school, boosting recruitment and empowering students and faculty.


Larry Kearns is a principal at Wheeler Kearns Architects in Chicago and served as the guest editor of gb&d‘s March/April 2014 issue. For more of Larry’s contributions to the magazine, click here