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The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Award for Architectural Excellence in Community Design, First Place

Amid the century-old buildings that surround it, La Casa Student Housing at 18th and Paulina streets stands as a symbol of academic success and community support in the historic Pilsen neighborhood. The handsome architecture, the work of UrbanWorks, Ltd., also reflects the essence of the development – a place of transition for the youth who call it home.

More than a decade ago, The Resurrection Project dreamt of a place where young people could more easily make the transition from neighborhood life to college – a place that offered safety, solitude for study, affordability, and the support systems for those who were often the first in their families to enter college. Rooms would be available for students of any Chicago two- or four-year college. With careful planning, the dream of La Casa came to life.

Sleek on the outside, cozy within, the dorm includes 25 four-bedroom suites for 100 students. Each suite contains private bedrooms with specially designed beds and desks, a common kitchen and living room. Light and airy, the suites have large windows set into masonry walls. The ground floor features a fitness center and laundry room, and is designed to accommodate a community café or retail store. The shared living/dining spaces on the corners of the building are fully glazed, sunny spaces during the day. At night they serve as a focus for the entire community.

For its vision in designing a building that reflects the community and for its innovative design in meeting the needs for privacy and scholarship, the 1st Place Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Award for Architectural Excellence in Community Design goes to UrbanWorks, Ltd. for The Resurrection Project’s La Casa Student Housing.