Chicago’s once beautiful Near West Side has been a challenging neighborhood since 1968 when much of the area was destroyed during the King riots. As with other such areas there continues to be a critical need for safe family housing that offers choice and a sense of place and community identity so children and families will have the opportunity to grow and flourish. As a part of the Chicago Housing Authority’s Plan Forward program, City Gardens is a full block, 76 unit mixed-income redevelopment that replaces CHA’s former Maplewood Courts, designed with strong community collaboration to address those needs.
The design of the buildings has two considerations. The 3 exterior street fronts, suggest a strong shoulder to shoulder line up of buildings circling the interior court. The buildings are not soldiers lined up to keep everyone out, however the buildings do give containment to the interior of the block and make it a safe haven for the families who live there. This central core anchors the development and offers natural landscaping and shared space with environmentally-focused amenities such as community gardens, grill stations, a recycling center, shared play space, and a full teaching kitchen with ample gathering and cooking space inside the community building. The slow-moving interior car traffic allows the entire courtyard to be a shared pedestrian space. The hope is the residents will take ownership of the “gardens” and use it as their own backyard where they grow, cook and eat healthy food. City Gardens is close to transportation, schools, and has a beautiful new city park directly to the north.
Near West Side, Chicago, IL
RTM & Associates (MEP)
Virgilio & Associates Ltd. (Structural)
Prism Engineering (Civil)
2019 Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Award for Architectural Excellence in Community Design, First Place (tie), CNDA (view online)
2018 Residential Design Merit Award, American Society of Landscape Architects
“CHA is proud to be part of this innovative, environmentally-conscious mixed-income development. I am excited that the agency will provide key housing opportunities for low-income residents as CHA continues to build strong, vibrant communities throughout Chicago.”
EUGENE JONES JR., CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
CHICAGO HOUSING AUTHORITY