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.

West Humboldt Place Allows The Children’s Place Association to Double Multi-Family Housing Capacity

 State Senator Patricia Van Pelt, Alderman Walter Burnett Jr, Governor Pat Quinn, Children’s Place CEO Cathy Krieger, Illinois Housing Development Authority Executive Director Mary Kenney, Congressman Danny K. Davis, and Chair of the Children’s Place Association Board Kathleen Sellew (Left to Right) gathered in late July to break ground on the project.

State Senator Patricia Van Pelt, Alderman Walter Burnett Jr, Governor Pat Quinn, Children’s Place CEO Cathy Krieger, Illinois Housing Development Authority Executive Director Mary Kenney, Congressman Danny K. Davis, and Chair of the Children’s Place Association Board Kathleen Sellew (Left to Right) gathered in late July to break ground on the project.

Work has begun on West Humboldt Place, a new housing development on the West Side of Chicago to serve low-income families with disabilities. Located at the corner of West Chicago and North Drake Avenues, the new, three-story building will include 13 apartments on the two upper floors. The ground floor will provide supportive services for tenants as well as 200 other low-income children and caregivers from the larger community. Services will include case management, mental health counseling, job training, financial literacy instruction, and programs for young children.

“West Humboldt Place’s combination of secure, affordable housing, and comprehensive services will help families improve their health, education, and economic stability so they can break the cycle of poverty,” Cathy Krieger, President and CEO of The Children’s Place Association, said.

The Children’s Place Association has been providing services in the Humboldt Park area for 23 years. It successfully developed two other buildings and currently manages nine apartments for families living with HIV/AIDS. West Humboldt Place will allow the nonprofit to increase its housing capacity by more than two times. Major funding for the project comes from the Illinois Housing Development Authority, and the Chicago Department of Planning and Development.

AIA Chicago, Chicago Public Schools Partner for Girls Architecture Workshop

Last Tuesday, the UIC School of Architecture hosted 80 6th-7th grade girls from three area Chicago Public Schools for AIA Chicago’s third annual youth and architecture event. LBBA’s Terran Wilson and Maggie Jarr helped lead the girls in a model-building activity that aimed to spark their interest in architecture and design through an exploration of the house. Using the traditional Chicago lot as a site, “Yeah, I’d Live There!” asked the students to build a house of their own through a 3D exploration of program and living arrangements. Following a brief presentation on traditional Chicago housing (three-flat, bungalow, courtyard apartments) and non-traditional housing (contemporary designs), the volunteers guided the girls through the programming exercise, considering the needs of the student and her family. At the end of the half-day event, the students arranged their houses collectively into a Chicago neighborhood.

Chicago Botanic Garden Begins Horticultural Classes at Buffett Place

On Wednesday evening, the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Horticultural Therapy staff welcomed community members to the first Community Engagement evening program hosted by the Fred and Pamela Buffett Place. Attendees gathered on the new green roof deck to participate in a spring bulb planting activity. During the session, participants learned how to appropriately plant, or “force,” spring bulbs into the rooftop containers. These bulbs will hibernate over the winter and come spring, they’ll bloom into beautiful displays of white and yellow daffodils. The collaboration with Chicago Botanic Gardens has allowed Buffett Place to provide a unique opportunity for healing, stress reduction, physical exercise, and learning for residents. Chicago Botanic Garden professionals enable participants to engage with elements of the plant world in a planned, individualized, and expertly directed manner.

Visit Harvest Commons, Dorchester Art+Housing Collaborative During Open House Chicago


Have you planned your itinerary for this weekend’s Open House Chicago? The Chicago Architecture Foundation’s free public festival offers behind-the-scenes access to 150 buildings across Chicago. New to this year’s site list are Harvest Commons Apartments and Dorchester Art+Housing Collaborative; two unique models for affordable housing and sustainable preservation. OHC is completely free-of-charge—no registration or tickets are needed!

Chicago Architecture Foundation’s 4th Annual
Open House Chicago

October 18-19, 2014

Harvest Commons Apartments
1519 W. Warren Blvd. | Neighborhood: Near West Side / West Town
Saturday: 10am-5pm
Sunday: 11am-4pm

Harvest Commons redefines “green living” by offering residents the opportunity to volunteer in the onsite urban farm and to learn about nutrition and green living from Heartland Human Care Services and Heartland Health Outreach. Visit this restored former hotel, featuring a teaching kitchen and urban farm with chickens.

Dorchester Art+Housing Collaborative
1456 E. 70th St. | Neighborhood: South Shore
Saturday: 9am-5pm
Sunday: 9am-5pm

An exciting component of the mixed-income rental community is the Art Center, opening early 2015, which will be a performing arts space. Get a sneak preview of the Art Center at the heart of the new Dorchester Art+Housing Collaborative.

Windy City Harvest at Legends South

The Chicago Botanic Garden, through its Windy City Harvest system, has developed a two-acre urban farm and incubator within the footprint of the former Robert Taylor Homes public housing project (now Legends South). The program’s new Legends Farm, supported by site developer Brinshore-Michaels and USDA, includes multiple quarter-acre farm plots, as well as shared-use tool storage, a Good Agricultural Practices-approved wash pack station, and hoophouse propagation space. The urban farm will occupy the site until the homeownership portion of the new mixed-income development is ready to be built.

This public-private initiative is dedicated to education, community development, and entrepreneurship training. Last spring, two beginner or “incubator” farmers started growing their crops in raised beds at the site. These Windy City Harvest graduates have completed the nine-month certificate program; taken another required course, Business and Entrepreneurship for Local Foods; and are working toward careers in urban agriculture. Each received a quarter-acre of land to work, along with shared tools, cooler space, and the guidance of an on-site farmer. The two-year incubator period also gives starting farmers shared access to markets until they secure a Chicago business license.