Marist GN 2019-Planetarium

The new 30-seat planetarium enables Marist High School students to lean back and explore the stars. Science teacher Kevin Butler, Class of 2005, will teach the astronomy curriculum and will be trained in early August by employees from Spitz, the company that designed and installed the dome. For more information about Marist, visit the website at

After 18 months of construction, Marist High School received its Temporary Certificate of Occupancy for Monastery Hall, the school’s 28,000-square-foot 10-lab science wing with a planetarium.

The certificate indicates the project has met Chicago building code and allows faculty and staff to use the space in preparation for the school year.

“Walking through the wing leaves me in awe,” said Marist Principal Larry Tucker, Class of 1979. “While we had a vision and detailed plans for this project, seeing it at this near-complete state is amazing. It’s such a proud moment for the Marist family, and I cannot wait to see students using this space in less than one month.”

The project was spurred on by the generosity of two major donors, and subsequently, many parents, alumni and friends of Marist have invested in the project. As of late July, the Marist Advancement Department raised $12.5 million towards the $15-million project cost, with funding still needed to complete furnishings and final touches.

Each of the ten labs will be dedicated to a specific branch of science. The anatomy and physiology lab will include a glass-walled space mimicking a hospital room. Inside, students will interact with HAL, a computerized medical simulator that presents with real-life symptoms, made by Gaumard.

In the forensics lab, a protected space will allow students to build crime scenes, collect evidence and process it in the lab. Other labs include easy access to experimentation tools, such as having an electrical source students can pull down from the ceiling. The physics lab has direct access to a school courtyard for outdoor testing. Several of the labs include mobile furniture so classes can transition from lecture to group work to lab work with ease.

The dome was designed and installed by Spitz, which has provided domes for major corporations and universities and for the Adler Planetarium in Chicago. The 30-seat space allows Marist to introduce a new astronomy curriculum developed by Dr. David Bradstreet, one of the leading astronomy educators in the country.

Other academic subject areas will be able to use the dome to experience content area in a truly unique way.

Inspiring curiosity was one of the pillars of Marist’s vision for this project. With that in mind, each lab has an eight-foot glass wall insert so that as students walk by they can see classes at work on projects and experiments. A 3D viewer created by Zygote will be installed that allows students to use a touch-screen menu to explore anatomy topics, such as the muscular or skeletal system.

Something Fishy, Inc. is installing a coral reef aquarium that will grow over time. The aquarium will not only add to the aesthetics, but it will be incorporated in the curriculum. Science-themed decor will be seen throughout the space to highlight significant figures in science and major science concepts.

While the shell of the original monastery is the home of the science wing, architect Fox and Fox gave the space new life and additional square footage in the footprint of the planetarium and in the two-story hallway that connects the space to the existing school building.

Construction was completed by Henry Brothers. Both companies have been leaders in educational space development for decades. The project was managed by Jones Lang LaSalle. Landscaping along the exterior and in the courtyard was done by Quattrocki.

The decision to move forward on the science wing project was multi-faceted. It was part of the school’s master campus plan, had support from major investors and matched the needs of students. Health-science majors are the number-two area of study for recent Marist graduates, following business.

The building also includes a heritage room that celebrates the history and impact of the Marist Brothers on Catholic education.

“This building was once bustling with dozens of Brothers living here,” said President Br. Hank Hammer, FMS. “While that has changed, it gives the Brothers great joy to know the space will once again be full of life with a focus on exploring the beautiful relationship between faith and science.”

Celebrating 56 years of excellence, Marist High School is a Catholic, coed high school, making Jesus Christ known and loved in the Marist Brothers’ tradition, while preparing students for higher education and life.

The new space will be open in time for the first day of school for all students on Aug. 22.

Those interested in being a part of this transformative project can learn more about it and how to invest in the future of Marist at the website at