Catherine Baker received her Bachelor of Architecture degree from Ball State University and a Master of Arts in Social Sciences at the University of Chicago. Both disciplines share some fundamental underpinnings that pertain to the work of LBBA; understanding people, understanding problems, making connections, and developing programmatic solutions. In 2002, Catherine became a Principal at Landon Bone Baker Architects where she applied these skills to develop a direct neighborhood outreach program, which fosters better-informed communities while simultaneously gathering the data that informs design. She runs the firm’s locally and nationally recognized LBBA Community Workshop. The summer program employs high school students and college-age mentors to study building design and initiate change in their neighborhood through environmental assessment studies and community asset mapping.
The importance of understanding neighborhood problems and connections can be seen in the planning projects that Catherine has managed, which include various federally-funded programs focusing on neighborhood revitalization such as HOPE VI, the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, and the redevelopment of a large Section 8 housing project in the Woodlawn neighborhood under the new Choice Neighborhoods Initiative. Several of these projects address specific neighborhood needs. One of which is Tierra Linda, a scattered-site housing project located in Humboldt Park and near the 606 Trail that is conceived and developed to nurture health and healthy living. Tierra Linda also features the first affordable multi-family Passive House building in the City of Chicago. Catherine’s projects holistically address and prioritize health, sustainability, and community wellness through good design. These priorities also inform her various volunteer efforts that ultimately focus on diversity and equity in architecture and social justice through architecture and design.
Catherine is active in Chicago’s architectural education community. For over 10 years she taught an architecture class in partnership with Lane Technical High School and Marwen that concentrated on urban design and neighborhood study. She continues to volunteer and support high school programming at the Chicago Architecture Center; She was a member of the advisory team at the Chicago Architecture Foundation that developed “The Architectural Handbook,” an award-winning architectural curriculum for the Chicago Public Schools, and acts as advisor and judge for the Newhouse Competition. She is also a founding mentor for Marwen’s Art at Work program and is currently co-leading the Architecture Education Network—a joint effort between CAF and AIA Chicago that will develop a design education path for K-12 architecture programs in Chicago.