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Fall Update

December 17, 2019

Fall 2019 was a busy season for the many groups involved in the redevelopment of the new Neal Math and Science Academy- from Neal seventh graders to architects at JGMA to Neal teachers and staff, and many more! The team is currently wrapping up the “Design Development” phase. Design Development entails listening to the many users of the future building (students, staff, administrators) about their visions, translating these dreams into floor plans, working with estimators to come up with preliminary budgets, and talking with North Chicago zoning officials.

Here is a taste of what we have been up to this Fall…

Over the past four months, the Facility Advisory Council (FAC) talked about the budget over tacos from Taqueria Toluca in August and floor plans over pulled pork sandwiches from Big Ed’s BBQ in September. The FAC is comprised of community stakeholders, USD187 board members, USD187 administrators, developers from IFF, architects from JGMA, and builders from Gilbane/Bowa/Blackwood.

The Community Advisory Council (CAC) met every first Thursday of the month over Dunkin coffee at 8:15AM to talk with the architects about design decisions like natural light and materials and perform skits about frequently asked questions regarding the project. The CAC is comprised of Neal middle school students, parents, teachers, administrators, staff, and local elected representatives.

The Neal Teaching and Learning Taskforce (NTLT) ate shockingly spicy salsa while talking about furniture layouts for the new Media Center and projector preferences for their classroom walls. They are gearing up to visit and learn from three schools that have adopted the “Pod” concept in the Chicagoland area this spring.

We also performed a space estimating exercise that entailed taping the real dimensions of the “Pod Living Room” space onto the Neal gym floor. After applying blue painter’s tape across the floor, we let 170 sixth graders move around the space to confirm that the space was large enough to accommodate their energy (it was!).

In October, seven design team members presented early drawings of the new Neal to families at four schools in North Chicago (AJK, Alexander, Forrestal, and Neal) during parent teacher conferences. Gilbane, part of the general contractor team, even brought a virtual reality set for the kids to experience!

Finally, the team hosted a resource fair at Neal to share the upcoming employment opportunities with local contractors and business associations. Strengthening the local economy in Lake County, especially North Chicago, through employing neighbors and local businesses is a high priority for the project.