from the archive: realistic idealist

Pre-Plan for Transformation, Pete talks about his hopes for Cabrini Green. You can find a reader-friendly version is here.


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Color Study: Nelson Mandela Apartments

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‘Grandfamily’ housing fills void of vacant lot

By Jack Schroeder, AIA, LEED AP,

This article first appeared in AIA’s newsletter on social impact, March 29, 2016.

See more of Roseland Village Grandfamily Apartments here.



Standing in front of a vacant, trash-strewn site in the Roseland neighborhood on the far Southside of Chicago, one of our best and most inspiring clients came to us with a wildly ambitious idea.

We had been working with Debbie Dixon of NHS Redevelopment Corporation in Roseland, an economically depressed and increasingly violent area, to create safe and affordable housing for families. But her new focus was on the senior population of the neighborhood. She wanted to create a true senior campus –a place where the backbone of this struggling area could age in place. This campus would serve as a showpiece and model for the neighborhood. It would show that Roseland could produce and deserved beautiful buildings and gardens, positive social environments, and forward-thinking environmental technologies.

The first piece was a 60-unit independent living facility with a City of Chicago “Senior Satellite Center” in the first floor. The second piece was 10-unit “Grandfamily” housing for grandparents raising their grandchildren. These pieces were going to complete the campus, which began with a supportive living facility that was already under construction next door.




To start the design process for the independent living facility, we visited a number of existing facilities with Debbie, and we agreed that the main design push for our building was to create a place that would be as warm as home. We were all turned off by the institutional feel that had become the norm.

There is a definite need for Grandfamily housing in Chicago.

To battle the sterile, indestructible public spaces and hallways we visited, we chose warm finishes, colors, and materials and pulled natural light in from all sides. In one facility we visited the seniors had created an impromptu game room in the electrical room. We quickly realized we had to produce varied and usable social space throughout: a lush garden and walking path for exercise; a rooftop deck; a seating area with a fireplace and visual access to the comings and goings of others; a solarium on the fifth floor with great views and sunshine on a cold winter day (and a pool table).

The client also worked with the Chicago Historical Society to put together a series of photographs documenting African-American history and pioneers on the Southside of Chicago and in Roseland.




Introducing the “grandfamily” type

The “Grandfamily” housing type was new to us and to Chicago; we had to work with the client to build a program and a set of goals and inspirations for the building. The apartments are large three- and four-bedroom units with generous living and dining spaces. The generous, flexible public space within the unit allowed for multiple family and age types –homework space, play space, and relaxation space. The grandparent is given a suite with a dedicated, fully accessible bathroom. There are generous windows from the kitchen (the social center of the house) out to the shared courtyard to allow for neighbors to keep an eye on their village. Security was a high priority in this facility because there can be occasions where biological parents illegally try to reconnect with the children. We were tasked with creating a highly secure facility that still felt like home.

The bulk of the L-shaped, 5-story independent living facility was held back from Michigan Avenue and then stepped down toward the street to respect the scale of the existing building fabric. The 2-story Grandfamily building was pushed to the corner of Michigan and 104th to anchor the corner and create a more modestly scaled and clad facade for the adjacent residential street. The two buildings interlock around a large, shared garden space.

Roseland Senior Campus has been up and running for a while and by all accounts is a success. It has remained near full occupancy throughout its short life. There is a definite need for Grandfamily housing in Chicago. The owner’s only criticism of the program is that the federal funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development appears to have set the age limit too high – 62 years old – to allow for the reality of the younger grandparents that find themselves in these situations. 




Residents have already begun to move from one facility to another as their needs change. The generous social spaces are put to good, heavy use. The client had visions of true intergenerational interaction at the facilities –allowing the young people in the Grandfamily building and neighborhood the resource of the senior’s wisdom and the seniors the resource of the younger generation’s boundless energy. This hasn’t been as easy in practice as we had hoped, but the management and social services folks continue to try. One unexpected issue is simply their varied schedules: The seniors tend to be settled in for an early evening when the school-age kids are home and fed and ready to interact.

Still, the ribbon cutting and subsequent visits to the campus are an absolute joy. Getting to engage with the folks living in the facility and hearing their compliments and criticisms is a true privilege. Hearing stories from one resident who drove tour buses for some of the biggest soul and blues artists of the past century was amazing. We had helped our client create the true “continuum of care” that she had hoped for. The campus gives a safe, healthy home to people of varied ages, physical needs, and family structures. The satellite center gave the seniors on campus and in the surrounding area a safe place to socialize, eat, dance, and learn. The vacant lot is a distant memory.

Photo Credits: Mark Ballogg


About the author

Jack Schroeder is a senior associate at Landon Bone Baker Architects. He holds bachelor of architecture and bachelor of environmental design degrees from Ball State University. With a strong commitment to community-based projects, Jack has focused on the field of multifamily housing, completing both affordable and market rate projects in Chicago and downstate Illinois. His extensive knowledge of green building practices and progressive city planning has helped the firm minimize its buildings’environmental impact and improve the quality of life for residents.



Cuz My Gear,” Chief Keef & Riff Raff (Official Music Video) at Roseland Village Grandfamily Apartments.

Internship Program to Create Bike- and Biker-Friendly Spaces around Humboldt Park


We are excited to announce bikeLab as the 2016 LBBA Community Lab! In its 7th year, LBBA Labs hire high school students to research an issue facing a neighborhood and offer design recommendations through a current LBBA project. The focus of each Lab is developed in partnership with a community organization.

For bikeLab, LBBA has partnered with the Latin United Community Housing Association (LUCHA) to design a plan for making their buildings in Humboldt Park more bike- and biker-friendly. Students will interview LUCHA residents about their bike use, research cycling and neighborhood data, visit bike shops, tour buildings with bike-centered design, and ultimately create an overall plan for integrating bike use and bike maintenance into LUCHA buildings and provide a bike-friendly design for LUCHA’s Tierra Linda project currently under development.

For six weeks, you are invited to follow and participate in bikeLab‘s work as it develops. Each Wednesday, LBBA and the bikeLab team will host a lunch presentation and work session open to the public. These lunches provide an opportunity for the students to learn about related work happening in the city as well as to share their project, work through specific questions, and receive feedback.

bikeLab Lunch Schedule

Open to the public. Lunch included.
Please RSVP with the dates of your choice to
Landon Bone Baker Architects, 734 N Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago, IL
Wednesdays, June 29 – July 27, 12:00pm – 1:30pm

6/29: LUCHA
bikeLab lead partner LUCHA will speak about their work providing affordable housing for Latino and Spanish-speaking communities in Chicago, introduce the role of bikes for LUCHA residents, and hopes for creating more opportunities for biking.

7/6: Michael Genge
Trained architect and bike enthusiast Michael Genge will speak about all things bikes including the South Side Velodrome project, competitive racing, aesthetic design quality, and even the romantic philosophical background of the bicycle.

7/13: Active Transportation Alliance
The advocacy team at the Active Transportation Alliance will speak about their efforts to advocate for transportation that encourages and promotes safety, physical activity, health, recreation, social interaction, equity, environmental stewardship, and resource conservation.

7/20: Maggie Jarr
Assistant Planner at Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, Maggie will share some of the work the agency is doing around planning for more efficient bicycle use including working with communities to develop bicycle and pedestrian plans and gathering data to design bicycle-friendly communities.

7/27: Steven Lane + Elizabeth Adamczyk
Cycling activists Elizabeth Adamczyk and Steven Lane will speak about various initiatives aimed at raising awareness about bike safety and engagement, including Women Bike Chicago, Ride of Silence, Ghost Bikes, and Critical Mass.

8/3: Final Review
The bikeLab student interns will share their final presentation and design for more bike- and biker-friendly spaces at LUCHA buildings.

TBD: Community Review
A second presentation will be held in Humboldt Park for LUCHA residents and other community members.

Unable to attend?  bikeLab participants will be updating Facebook, Twitter, and the newly-minted bikeLab blog,, with research, observations, and work.

The LBBA Labs program operates under the philosophy that youth excel when they are integrated in the work of professionals and are given a high degree of responsibility and leadership opportunities. The participants–their work, their ideas, and their energy–are the catalyst to encourage broader community involvement and change. Learn more on bikeLab’s website.

Gwendolyn Place, Phase C3 Legends South, Wins Charles L. Edson Tax Credit Award

Gwendolyn Place, a mixed-income, mixed-finance affordable housing community located on Chicago’s South Side has been recognized for excellence by The Affordable Housing Tax Credit Coalition as part of its 2016 Charles L. Edson Tax Credit Awards program.
The awards, presented June 8 at a ceremony held on Capitol Hill with members of Congress as invited guests, celebrate the best in affordable rental housing development by recognizing outstanding properties in several categories. Read more on The Michaels Organization website here.


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109 E 43rd Street. Photo Credit: David Schalliol


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4333 S Michigan Avenue. Photo Credit: David Schalliol

Parkside of Old Town Wins Placemakers Award

Phase IIb at Parkside of Old Town, now Terrace 459, has been named one of the nation’s top recent developments by Real Estate Forum. The featured “placemaking” projects were largely selected based on the successful coordination and collaboration executed by each project team. View PDF announcement here.


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In place of isolated towers, the new public housing approach offers more housing options and access to more services and amenities by integrating public housing into neighborhoods through mixed-income, lower density development.  A large challenge in building mixed-income housing has been working with limited government subsidies and funding programs while still addressing needs and desires of a mixed-income population. On the site of former Cabrini-Green, Terrace 459 at Parkside of Old Town was able to overcome these challenges through the work of a team long-experienced in designing and building mixed-income and affordable housing projects and by bringing residents, consultants, and the general contractor to the table at the earliest stages. The result is a project that reflects its urban condition and asks to be part a city available to everyone regardless of income.


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Photo credits: David Schalliol


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Photo credit: David Schalliol
Project Team:
Holsten Real Estate Development Corp. (developer)
Cabrini Green Local Advisory Council (development partner)
Linn-Mathes, Inc (contractor)
Landon Bone Baker Architects (architects)
McKay Landscape Architects (landscape)
Prism Engineering (civil)
C.E. Anderson & Anderson (structural)
Spancrete (precast concrete)
Lehman Design Consultants, Inc. (MEP)


Corporation for Supportive Housing Summit

The 2016 Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH) Summit, “Housing as a Platform,” took place last week here in Chicago. The 3-day event focused on the most pressing topics for supportive housing today, and aimed to bring more dialog and collaboration to solutions that could improve the lives of the most vulnerable and maximize public resources to build healthy communities.


Harvest Commons Apartments. Photo credit: Wayne Cable Photography


Jeff Bone was among the panel of speakers at Friday’s breakout session, “Supportive Housing Design and Construction,” which gave insight to the design and construction of supportive housing through the presentation of real projects with real budgets. Speakers included Mike Newman (Shed Studio), Bob Mates (Linn-Mathes Construction), Susan King (Harley Ellis Devereaux), Larry Pusateri  (Lightengale Group), and Nadia Underhill (Heartland Alliance Housing).


Together with Nadia Underhill, Jeff walked through the formation of Harvest Commons Apartments, a historical preservation and sustainability project that incorporates 89 Single Resident Occupancy (SRO) units with unique supportive housing services—such as an urban farm, teaching kitchen, and social enterprise café—to help the formerly homeless build healthy, active lifestyles while remaining stably housed.


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Urban Farming at Harvest Commons Apartments. Photo credit: Wayne Cable Photography


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Social Enterprise Cafe. Photo credit: Leslie Schwartz



Planting Planning Session at Harvest Commons Apartments. Photo credit: Shane Welch Photography



Harvest Commons Apartments Resident. Photo credit: Shane Welch Photography

A Tiny Home Community for Chicago

“What struck me is that everyone I went to about this…no one said this can’t be done. No one said it’s impossible. It’s a matter of solving a series of challenges and problems.”
– Eithne McManamin, Tiny Homes Summit, April 2016
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At the recent ‘Tiny Homes Summit,’ Jeff Bone and Eithne McMenamin presented their planned development for a Tiny Homes community in Chicago. The project aims to be a case study for Tiny House development in Chicago.


“We have spent a number of meetings with the city. Our goal was to really do something. We realized right off the bat that we needed to meet with the City, select a property, and make a proposal that they could react to.”  – Jeff Bone, Tiny Homes Summit, April 2016


Together with communities, advocates, and city officials, the team hopes to overcome some of the challenges currently preventing Tiny Homes from being built, like Chicago’s building and zoning codes and a lack of community acceptance.


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Watch their presentation to the Summit for a look into the project and how Tiny Houses can address larger issues of social justice and housing stability.


You can find the full lineup of ‘Tiny Homes Summit’ videos here.


The goal of the Tiny Homes Summit hosted by The Pride Action Tank—a project of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago—the Windy City Times, and lead sponsor Polk Bros. Foundation alongside UIC’s Gender and Sexuality Center and The Alphawood Foundation was to determine what is possible in Chicago and to take deliberate steps toward making a tiny homes community in the city a reality. See


Terrace 459 at Parkside of Old Town Opens, providing more affordable housing options for individuals and families

“To build a community, you have to do it from the inside out. And, you have to start with people. This means that we must make more than a bricks-and-mortar commitment. It means that we must all make a commitment to work together to make a difference in the city.”   – Peter Holsten, President, Holsten Real Estate
Parkside of Old Town’s 459 Terrace (phase 2b) is the latest development in the revitalization of Cabrini-Green. As a part of the Chicago Housing Authority’s “Plan for Transformation,” Parkside of Old Town shifts the old public housing model to a mixed-income strategy. At places like Cabrini Green, people were cut off. Physically and psychologically, they were a city apart. The new apartment buildings aim to eliminate those barriers through lower-density development, greater income diversity among tenants, and amenities that attract residents across a broad range.


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Terrace 459 consists of three building styles: mid-rise, townhomes, and city flats. Image courtesy David Schalliol.


landon bone baker architects were fortunate to work with mission-based developer holsten real estate development corp. and the cabrini green l.a.c. to create a design centered on improving the quality of people’s lives and the neighborhood they call home.


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By partnering early on with the contractor, Linn-Mathes, and precast consultant, Spancrete, LBBA was able to devise a precast concrete panel that complimented the mid-rise program and unit layouts, while creating a building massing sensitive to pedestrians. The design articulates the flexibility and adaptability of the module.



Once fully planted, the interior courtyard, designed by McKay Landscape Architects, will connect neighbors while delineating more private spaces for residents.



Holsten Real Estate Development Corp., Cabrini Green Local Advisory Council, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the Chicago Housing Authority, Congressman Danny Davis, and Alderman Walter Burnett, Jr., cut the ribbon on Terrace 459.


Client: Holsten Real Estate Development Corporation and the Cabrini Green Local Advisory Council
Contractor: Linn-Mathes, Inc.
McKay Landscape Architects (landscape)
Prism Engineering (civil)
C.E. Anderson & Anderson (structural)
Spancrete (precast concrete)
Lehman Design Consultants, Inc. (MEP)


Read the City of Chicago’s Press Release here.


Last night (and a day early), we hosted our first “on the table” to discuss ways to expand cityLab, our 6-week summer program that hires high school students to engage communities and inform projects through research. We were honored to be in such talented company, and look forward to furthering the conversation. Special thanks to Chicago Community Trust for organizing this city-wide event. Learn more and host your own at


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