Abraham Lincoln Elementary: Adding a contemporary twist to a Chicago landmark

Established in 1871, the Abraham Lincoln Elementary School in Chicago has been an integral part of the Lincoln Park community for over 135 years. The school is committed to providing innovative learning experiences for it’s students, and has become instrumental in Chicago’s educational system. In 1981, the school was designated as an International Gifted School, a very prestigious and well-recognized academic program. In addition to this program, the school offers various language programs including an advanced French learning program, art and literacy programs, and a greenhouse/green roof project.

The school has grown rapidly alongside the community, and as a result, the building was first expanded in 1894, and again in 1937. In 2013, another expansion project was proposed, as the school was home to over 800 students, with an ideal capacity of only 650 students. Chicago based architects Muller+Muller were selected to design and lead the school’s expansion. As the school is located in one of Chicago’s landmark districts, Muller+Muller was challenged to create a contemporary new wing that complimented and honored the existing structure. To achieve this, they matched the brick, terra cotta, limestone, and dark bronze metal used on the original building. However, to add a modern flair to the design, Muller+Muller incorporated dichroic glass to highlight the rooftop play area, one of the new project’s key features.

Dichroic Laminated Glass is a unique product that transmits and reflects light, producing a brilliant color shift when viewed at different angles. Nicholas Micheels, Project Architect at Muller+Muller explains why dichroic glass was the chosen material for this project as “it added a playfulness to the façade and the children’s play area by rendering a vibrant array of colors onto it’s many exterior surfaces”. Once completed, the structure strikes a perfect balance between historical and contemporary, with the dichroic glass adding intrigue when viewed from the street level, and an unmatched appeal to the children’s play area. Nicholas enjoys working with dichroic glass as it “behaves in a way that doesn’t immediately make sense, one pane of glass can yield different results based on where you observe it from. This makes the user experience much more engaging and full of color”.

Although this was the first dichroic glass used on a Chicago Public School, dichroic glass is quickly gaining popularity as an accent piece to modernize building facades. Goldray has helped to achieve a similar look on projects like the Ohio State University Chiller Plant and the Museum at Prairiefire in Kansas. Goldray Glass would like to thank those that worked to make this project possible, including our sales representative Craig MacGregor, the architects Muller+Muller for their outstanding design, and the glazing contractor, Vitralum Industries.