JGMA for Kleo Art Residences

 2020 Driehaus Award, Second Place


JGMA for KLEO Center & Brinshore

5504 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60615

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Community activist Torrey Barrett had a dream of creating a building in Washington Park that both the artists and neighborhood residents who mingled at the community center he founded in memory of his sister could call home. When former Mayor Rahm Emanuel suggested that Torrey meet architect Juan Moreno of JGMA, he saw that the dream could become reality. With no promise of a formal engagement or fees, Juan jumped headlong into the project, creating a concept for a mixed-use building, one that would welcome artists and community folks alike, and affordable to all. Armed with vetted drawings and community enthusiasm, Torrey recruited Brinshore Development, whose long history in affordable housing bode well for securing the necessary financing and permits. But even Brinshore could not have imagined what JGMA brought to the project—innovations that added beauty, cost savings, and unparalleled community access. Although it took Juan many long hours of discussion with officials, the four-story, L-shaped building demonstrates the city’s first-ever use of polycarbonate curtain wall panels. These are cost-effective and amplify the natural daylight that artists and residents said they desired while saving on utility costs and illuminating the building at night. Further reflecting neighborhood input, and the colors of a community mural that can be seen from all of the windows on the east side of the building, each floor has a distinct color palette drawn from the mural. Similarly, every floor has art-enhanced common sitting area. The ground floor is devoted to 5,000 square feet of retail space, community rooms, and artists’ studios. One intriguing and unique feature of the artists’ spaces that face Michigan Avenue are their individual roll-up doors that allow them to share their work and their wares with the community. When asked how JGMA’s design has been received, Torrey Barrett responds, “When we began to rent the 58 apartments, more than 1000 people applied.” For creating a structure that inspires joy and enhances life for those who live and work in it as well as for the community-at-large, this year’s Second Place winner of the Richard H. Dreihaus Foundation Award for Architectural Excellence in Community Design goes to JGMA for Kleo Art Residences.