Behind the Scenes: Buffett Place

BehindTheScenes BuffettPlace SocialMedia 600x330

Chicago Architecture Foundation presents “Behind the Scenes: Buffet Place.”

Come see the Fred and Pamela Buffett Place—a completely renovated, environmentally-friendly, supportive housing community by Landon Bone Baker Architects in 2014. This transformation of the 1920s Diplomat Hotel in Lakeview won a Chicago Neighborhood Development Award for Architectural Excellence. Join Jeff Bone and Claudia Rodriguez from Landon Bone Baker for tours of the historic courtyard, common areas and the new roof top deck.

Cost: $15 CAF members / $20 non-members
Location: 3208 N. Sheffield Ave.

Register for the tour here.

Best rehab of a public housing project into artists’ housing



Dorchester Art + Housing Collaborative was featured in Chicago Reader’s “Best of Chicago” list as the “best rehab of a public housing project into artists’ housing.”

“A series of two-story redbrick town houses that spread across two blocks on 70th Street in the Grand Crossing neighborhood, it had been abused, but had pleasing lines and was only 31 years old. Gates, his Rebuild Foundation, and his partners at Brinshore Development were proposing a public-private redevelopment for it designed by Landon Bone Baker Architects. Their plan was to turn it into 32 two- and three-bedroom units of mixed-income (subsidized, affordable, and market-rate) housing, anchored by a flexible arts space, with artists in the tenant mix. Renamed the Dorchester Art + Housing Collaborative, it opened last fall, a fully occupied and inviting complex with handsome recessed doorways, chamfered corners, and mature trees that overhang wooden decks and gardens. Activities in its glassy little art center—currently a weekly yoga class and a monthly community circle—are programmed by the Rebuild Foundation.”

Parks for All? Affordable housing battles rising rents along Chicago’s newest park.

3-Flat-A-Color_revisedCheck out The Architect’s Newspaper article featuring “Tierra Linda,” a Latin United Community Housing Association (LUCHA) project, that consists of 43 units of affordable housing near The 606, Chicago’s new linear park and bike corridor. The article includes an interview with Charlene Andreas, LUCHA’s Director of Building Development and LBBA principal, Catherine Baker.

“We’re serving some of the last opportunities in this area to provide affordable housing,” said Charlene Andreas, LUCHA’s Director of Building Development.

Tierra Linda is one of a half dozen affordable housing projects near The 606 that will comprise more than 300 residences, according to the city’s Department of Planning and Development.

LBBA, LUCHA, and the wider network of area non-profit affordable housing advocates said The 606 will have an overall positive impact on its low-income neighbors. They said the diversity-retaining elements of affordable housing are as much a selling point as new park space, or the accompanying commercial development.

“What makes me optimistic is the amount of support that came with all of the community meetings,” said Catherine Baker of LBBA. “There were a lot of new people to Humboldt Park, and they specifically moved [there] because of the diversity; they liked the mix of incomes, and they want to keep it that way. They’re fighting for that, and they’re the newcomers.”

Dorchester Art + Housing Collaborative Receives ULI Vision Award

After Art Center Exterior 2015 Vision Awards_DAHC 1

Urban Land Institute (ULI) Vision Awards honor projects and programs in Chicago that exemplify success in the development process. Projects with exemplary construction, economic viability, marketing, management, and design were recognized on Wednesday, June 3 at the Redmoon Theater. Rebuild Foundation, Brinshore Development and Landon Bone Baker had the honor of receiving an award for Dorchester Art + Housing Collaborative in the Project category.

The Dorchester Art + Housing Collaborative (DA+HC) is a cornerstone project of Rebuild Foundation’s (Rebuild) broader vision to reactivate underutilized and abandoned buildings in Chicago’s Greater Grand Crossing neighborhood as part of an ambitious movement of community rejuvenation. Rebuild Foundation is a non-for-profit organization that endeavors to rebuild the cultural foundations of underinvested neighborhoods and incite movements of community revitalization that are culture based, artist led, and neighborhood driven.

The DA+HC is a rehabilitated block of 32 townhomes that serves as residences for artists and community members with the intent of fostering dialogue and collaboration between both groups. Originally conceived in 2011, the project was spearheaded by Rebuild Foundation in partnership with Brinshore Development, Landon Bone Baker Architects, and the Chicago Housing Authority.

Woodlawn Park Receives ULI Vision Award

Urban Land Institute (ULI) Vision Awards honor projects and programs in Chicago that exemplify success in the development process. Projects with exemplary construction, economic viability, marketing, management, and design were recognized on Wednesday, June 3 at the Redmoon Theater. Woodlawn Park, developed by Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH), received an award in the Program category.

Woodlawn Park is a community development that  focuses on community renewal and the restoration of historic linkages between the University of Chicago, the neighborhood of Woodlawn, Washington Park and the CTA green line.


Woodlawn Park replaces the existing Grove Parc, a distressed Section 8 complex of 504 units. The new development mix includes 404 units of affordable, market-rate and elderly housing as well as commercial and recreational components. It will be built in phases over a 4 year construction period.

Woodlawn was one of the recipients of the first-ever Implementation Grants awarded under HUD’s Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, a strategy and tool to support local leaders in transforming high-poverty, distressed neighborhoods into neighborhoods with healthy, affordable housing, safe streets, and access to quality educational opportunities.


Photo Credit: Ballogg Photography

American Theater Company Presents: “The Project(s)”


American Theater Company (ATC) presents the third world premiere in its 30th Anniversary season: The Project(s), a documentary play about the history of public housing in Chicago, April 24-June 21, 2015. Conceived, co-written and directed by ATC Artistic Director PJ Paparelli and co-written by Joshua Jaeger, The Project(s) innovatively combines documentary theater with a cappella music, body percussion and stepping to create a provocative examination of the successes and failures of public housing that poses the question, “What is America’s responsibility to its poor?” Single tickets for The Project(s) range from $38-$48 and are now on sale here or call the box office at 773-409-4125.
Box Office Hours:

Monday through Friday: noon to 6pm
Saturdays: 1pm to 8pm (on performance days)
Sundays: noon to 5pm (on performance days)

For more information, visit the ATC website.

LBBA Receives First Place Driehaus Award for Architectural Excellence in Community Design


On Tuesday, the 21st Annual Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards (CNDA) recognized local developers, non-profits, and architects who have worked to improve communities through outstanding architectural contributions to Chicago neighborhoods. Awarding the best of the year’s neighborhood-focused developments, CNDA is a time to celebrate as well as reflect on the changing needs of our neighborhoods and how they are being met by the city’s robust community of neighborhood developers and organizations. Landon Bone Baker Architects was honored to receive the First Place (Buffet Place) Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Awards for Architectural Excellence in Community Design.

Fred and Pamela Buffet Place
1st Place Driehaus Award for Architectural Excellence in Community Design

Client: Brinshore Development & Thresholds

Team: dbHMS; McKay Landscape Architects; Carsello Engineering Inc.; Prism Engineering; archi-treasures; ReBuilding Exchange; Chicago Botanic Gardens

Too often a focus on process can get in the way of delivering a quality product. But sometimes, when project planners reach out to everyone with something to contribute, the process begets brilliance.

How else to describe how Ald. Tom Tunney (44th), Brinshore Development and Tresholds – Illinois’ largest provider of mental health services to the needy – went about engaging talent capable of converting what had been an infamous SRO into a bright, life-affirming place that feels like home?

Architect Jeff Bone’s team listened carefully at a series of pre-development workshops for tenants and community stakeholders as folks vented on what they didn’t like about the old Diplomat Hotel… and their hopes for their redo. Top-of-list was a sunlit place other than the sidewalk next to the liquor store at Belmont and Sheffield for residents to socialize. Hence an early decision to demolish a single-story interior structure to make room for an internal courtyard/living room that reflects sunlight throughout. Oh, and a rooftop green garden with skyline views not often associated with affordable housing.

Reducing the number of rooms to 51 from 91 yielded wider corridors, apartments with their own baths, and public spaces decorated with artwork crafted especially for Buffet Place. The non-profit archi-treasurers led the latter effort, its lobby capstone a composite photograph of artwork produced by Tresholds residents overlain by the script “home” milled from reclaimed hardwood. Another non-profit, the ReBuilding Exchange, salvaged hardwood joists and framing to craft one-of-a-kind benches, bookshelves and coat racks that all but whisper “home.” Chicago Botanic Garden helped with landscaping, and Tresholds is opening an Urban Flowers shop, both to engage its residents… and alert pedestrians that this stretch of Sheffield is no longer to be avoided.

“The Level of involvement by different prayers,” said LBB project manager Claudia Rodriguez. “That was the dynamic that drove the outcome

Above description by LISC CHICAGO



Photo credits- Mark Ballogg Photography

Grand Opening: Dorchester Art+Housing Collaborative

While much of Chicago’s large-scale public housing has been demolished, a small, abandoned 36-unit Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) property on the South Side has been reborn as an innovative mixed-use project bringing art-interested public housing residents and practicing artists together. Dorchester Art+Housing Collaborative transforms the former Dante Harper housing project into a mixed-income community and a place for arts creation, performance, education, and display. Last week Mayor Rahm Emanuel joined the CHA, Brinshore Development, and artist Theaster Gates to formally kick off the grand opening for the new development.

“For years, this was an abandoned housing project but thanks to Theaster’s vision, this land has been reimagined, reinvented, and revitalized as a place for residents to live and for artists to create,” said Mayor Emanuel. “The Dorchester Art+Housing Collaborative proves that investing in art and culture can bring both economic revitalization and a sense of community to every neighborhood.”

Located in Chicago’s Grand Crossing Neighborhood, the gut rehab project consists of 32 total residential units (10 market rate, 11 affordable, and 11 public housing) for individuals and families as residencies and long-term rental opportunities and is centered around a new art center complete with dance studio, public meeting space, and community garden. All buildings were restored to their original modern design, with the addition of an Art Center composed of four former townhomes in the center of the development. For Gates and Landon Bone Baker Architects, reusing the existing buildings is important.

“The full obliteration and re-creation of neighborhoods is not natural,” said Gates, referring to wholesale destruction of vast tracts of public housing in Chicago. “How do we work with the existing fabric of a neighborhood and dream what we want the neighborhood to be?”

Under the leadership of Gates’ Rebuild Foundation, the Art Center offers arts and cultural programming for Dorchester Art+Housing Collaborative residents and the surrounding community. A unique quality of the development includes the selection of artists to live in five of the townhomes. These five artists commit to 10 volunteer hours per month to further realize Rebuild Foundation’s mission: to catalyze neighborhood revitalization through artistic practice, individual empowerment, and community engagement.

LBBA Hosts Film Screening, Discussion on Stories From Cabrini Green

On Thursday evening, Landon Bone Baker Architects was joined by Holsten Human Capital Development, Heartland Housing, Archeworks, and many others representing the field of community development in Chicago for a film screening of Sam Spitz’s “The Greens,” a 20-minute personal journey documentary he wrote, directed, and produced about Cabrini Green. The film starts when a white college kid sits down in a black barber’s chair. As Sam and Teddy talk, they realize they spent most of their lives four blocks apart on Division Street–Sam at a private school in Pulaski Park, and Teddy on the other side of the Chicago River, in the high rises of Cabrini Green. Teddy offers to take Sam for a walk down his side of Division, and so begins a journey through time.

“The Greens” is a human story–not an overtly political or propagandizing documentary. Sam and Teddy–the main characters and co-producers–use the film to start discussions about everything from racial segregation, urban poverty, and mass incarceration to media stereotypes, gentrification, and the changing landscape of urban America. As architects, researchers, and educators committed to democratic design, our audience was particularly engaged on the issue of equitable planning. Landon Bone Baker Architects is currently involved in the redevelopment of Cabrini Green (Parkside of Old Town) and previously led a summer workshop (cityLab) to study the effects of urban design decisions on the community.

Landon Bone Baker Architects Honored as 2014 AIA Chicago Firm of the Year

Noted for their commitment to social justice and invigorating neighborhoods through urban design, Landon Bone Baker Architects (LBBA) has been named the 2014 AIA Chicago Firm of the Year. Established in 1991, the award recognizes a single firm’s outstanding achievements, consistent excellence, and ongoing contributions to the advancement of the architectural profession.

“Landon Bone Baker Architects embraces the challenge of building for the neediest members of our society and accomplishes it contextually and sustainably on minuscule budgets…but with great architectural integrity,” a juror said.

Driven by the credo that “good design is for everyone,” LBBA has been improving the urban condition through incremental interventions in the cityscape since its founding in 1987. Principals Peter Landon, FAIA, Jeff Bone, AIA, and Catherine Baker, AIA, and their team work to produce buildings and plans that translate the principles of public interest design – a participatory design process meant to equate ecological, financial, and social costs – into reality.

The firm’s portfolio includes the revitalization of numerous Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) developments, including Chinatown’s Archer Courts, the Near North Side’s Parkside of Old Town, and Greater Grand Crossing’s Dorchester Art + Housing Collaborative, a transformation of the former CHA Dante Harper Housing Project and a collaboration with Theaster Gates and his Rebuild Foundation.

LBBA is “a Chicago firm, working in the local idiom, respectfully,” a juror said. The firm employs an outlook that “not just downtown buildings will save the city,” another juror added. This belief in the power of community-driven planning to enact equitable and livable design standards at the human scale is further evidenced by the neighborhood-based programs the firm runs.

The LBBA Community Workshop is a summer program for high school students and college-age mentors interested in design. The workshop provides an entry point for young designers to participate in community design and empowers local residents to affect their environment through the design process. Landon Bone Baker Architects has hosted five Lab programs through the LBBA Community Workshop to date: ShadeLab, airLab, airLab 2.0, and cityLab 2013 & 2014.

The award will be officially presented at the chapter’s annual meeting and holiday celebration, to be held on December 8. Learn more about LBBA’s firm culture and work in Newcity Design’s recent article “The People’s Architect” and by downloading the award-winning submission: FirmoftheYearAward_LandonBoneBakerArchitects.