City Gardens

 2019 Driehaus Award, First Place

Landon Bone Baker Architects for The Michaels Organization

312 S Maplewood Court Chicago, IL 60612

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When Brinshore Development won the right to redevelop Maplewood Courts, a long-abandoned public housing property on the city’s West Side, they were both elated and challenged. Located in a densely packed neighborhood, the full block property was bounded on the west by a heavily-trafficked elevated railway and on the south by an eight-lane expressway. Could the site be developed into a property that respected and spoke to the context of the surrounding community while offering residents an oasis amid the surrounding transit corridors and multi-use neighborhood? The affirmative answer was provided by Landon Bone Baker Architects – a firm that has created many of the city’s most attractive housing for families and individuals of moderate means. “In the midst of a dense urban neighborhood we wanted to create a development that could address the street in a formal way that felt strong but not rigid and at the same time create an interior space that would nurture kids, families and a community,” explains Landon Bone Baker principal architect Peter Landon. To achieve this the architects arranged the 76-apartment building in a square that provides a statement of strength and definition to the external environment while providing a secure and supportive environment within. While the 76-units are a single structure, the use of set-backs, varied window groups, changing roof profiles and colors provide variety and ensure the building reflects neighborhood context. Within the perimeter, the architects brilliantly created a central courtyard that serves as tenant-only parking, and more importantly, is designed to be the heart of communal activity for children and adults alike. Located inside is a community building with a full teaching kitchen, a large play area, grill stations, outdoor seating areas as well as a working garden managed by the residents. The surrounding residences provide “eyes on the site” at all times. Finally, a prominent recycling center reinforces the community’s commitment to sustainable practices. The interiors of the units are carefully planned to provide for natural light, ample closet space, and other details that make them very livable and inviting. Reflecting careful thought and understanding both of architecture and of people, City Gardens has become a highly desirable community that should serve as an exemplary model for future development.