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Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Award for Architectural Excellence, 2nd Place: Landon Bone Baker Architects, for Archer Courts Townhouses

Designing the second phase of the Archer Court redevelopment challenged Landon Bone Baker Architects to meet a very high standard — their own. As architects for the first phase, the firm had turned two dilapidated CHA mid-rise buildings into showcases, winning the American Institute of Architects Distinguished Building Award in 2002 and recognition from the Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards in 2001 and 2002.

Phase Two called for the construction of new townhouses on 1.134 acres of vacant land adjoining the existing rental buildings. Once again, Chicago Community Development Corporation handled the development, this time under the City of Chicago's Homestart Program. Homestart provides funding through general purpose bonds, and the developer acts as an agent for the city in return for a fee. Archer Court Townhouses - Phase II is the first completed project funded by Homestart.

The 43 townhouses were built to the west of the mid-rises around a central court walkway and green space that connect both areas. With colorful yellow exterior walls and extended dark green window bays, the buildings have modern lines and an open feeling. The units come in three sizes, and each has an outdoor deck on the roof. Interiors range from two to three bedrooms; some units have family rooms on the ground floor while others have a ground bedroom, making them more convenient for people with limited mobility.

Thirty-four of the townhouses were sold at market rate. Five were made affordable with a TIF subsidy. Four units are owned by the CHA in return for the land, and will be home to public housing families. As a new, mixed-income community, Phase II fills a pressing need for housing in Chinatown. The project's community sponsor, the Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, coordinated the community input into the project, and held a lottery for the five affordable units.

The common spaces of the development have a distinctly Chinese look to them; two pagoda-like structures provide shade as tai chi exercises take place there each morning. They symbolize the new community life of Chinatown, which has been enhanced by both phases of the Archer Court redevelopment and the visionary work of Landon Bone Baker Architects.