Landon Bone Baker Architects for La Casa Norte Foundation Center
2020 Driehaus Award, Third Place
Landon Bone Baker Architects for La Casa Norte
3533 W North Ave, Chicago, IL 60647
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Almost a decade ago, with a growing clientele and staff, and the desire to expand its housing activities, La Casa’s then-executive director Sol Flores knew it was time for something new. Through an extensive consultation process with service recipients, community members and staff, La Casa decided to create a building that would integrate housing, services, and community and office space , a building whose design the organization entrusted to a longstanding and trusted partner, Landon Bone Baker Architects. The result is The Foundation Center, a five-story glass and brick building at 3533 West North Avenue. While new and much taller than the two-story, 1930s-era buildings that line the streets east and west of it, by setting upper three floors back from the street, the architect skillfully allowed the building to seamlessly blend into and enhance the surrounding neighborhood. Just as skillfully, Landon Bone Baker integrated yet preserved the uniqueness of each building use. On the first floor are the community facilities, including a food pantry and café; a Federally Qualified Health Center operated by the Howard Brown Health Center, and a youth drop-in facility where young people experiencing homelessness or housing instability can get help. The second floor houses private offices for therapists and social workers and administrative offices for La Casa staff. On the upper three floors are an inviting common room and 25 one- and two-bedroom apartments for previously homeless youth and families. Residents of the apartments enter through a private door to the east, assuring them the security and respect that homelessness too often erodes. Each apartment is well-it, spacious, and equipped with the fundamentals that the young people and families that occupy them to need for their peace of mind, which is enhanced by a view from the windows of each apartment of a green-roofed atrium. Former director Sol Flores praised the architect, saying that, “Landon Bone Baker has given the community, including its most vulnerable residents, a place they can be proud of—a place they can call home.” For the inspiring and sensitive design of The Foundation Center, Landon Bone Baker Architects is this year’s recipient of the Third Place Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Award for Architectural Excellence in Community Design.