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Landon Bone Baker for The Jackson at Woodlawn Park: 3rd Place Driehaus Award for Architectural Excellence

For designing a transit-oriented and forward-looking mixed-income housing development that will allow a neighborhood to begin its own reinvention, Landon Bone Baker is the 2014 winner of the Third Place Richard H. Driehaus Award for Excellence in Community Design, for The Jackson at Woodlawn Park,

On a block of Cottage Grove Avenue where there was once the sprawling and distressed Grove Parc Plaza Apartments, now stands The Jackson at Woodlawn Park—a handsome new mixed-income complex on a tree-lined street. Designed by Landon Bone Baker Architects and developed by Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH), the Jackson consists of 67 apartments in two walk-up buildings. When the original development was threatened with foreclosure in 2007, Grove Parc residents undertook a successful national search for a developer that would save the affordable housing in their community. Just steps from the elevated train and along several major bus routes, the site is a key link between the University of Chicago, Woodlawn and Washington Park.

The Jackson is the first of several projects aimed to rein- vent Woodlawn as a safe and prosperous community. As mixed-income housing, the new three-story, brick buildings also needed to entice and maintain market- rate residents. In response, Landon Bone Baker incorporated large windows; a naturally lit and open stairwell; landscaped areas; a tot lot; common exterior grill/social area; a community room; and private exterior play areas behind each of the three-bedroom units.

Traffic, gang activity and violence had been major problems in the former Grove Parc Plaza Apartments, so those issues weighed heavily on Landon Bone Baker’s design process. To address site security, the new design eliminated large gaps in the fencing, eliminated site porosity and “cut-throughs” between the alley and the street, emphasized the main entrance, and reduced dark alleys, corridors, and interior stairwells as much as possible. To quell traffic concerns, designers employed thoughtful parkway landscape and additional raised landscape beds along the sidewalk. The buildings were also raised two feet above grade.

The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Award for Architectural Excellence in Community Design was created, in conjunction with the Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards, to encourage development that respects and strengthens the city’s unmatched architectural heritage – especially in neighborhoods confronting economic and social challenge. Each year, the Award recognizes three developments that are making a significant contribution to the social, visual and cultural life of their neighborhoods through quality of design.