Skip to main content

The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Award for Outstanding Non-profit Neighborhood Real Estate Project

Thresholds for Fred and Pamela Buffett Place

Everything about Buffett Place whispers “home.”

But converting the cold and infamous Diplomat Hotel into a warm and nurturing environment required deft coordination among Illinois’ largest provider of mental health services, the City of Chicago, and Brinshore Development LLC.

After the City took possession of the vacant SRO following years of mismanagement, the mayor and Ald. Tom Tunney (44th), sought to preserve affordability and make it an asset, not a liability, to the bustling Belmont/ Sheffield district.

The winning proposal by Thresholds/Brinshore and architects Landon Bone Baker did that and much more, delivering not just a stunningly innovative design but participation by several other experts ... and importantly, Thresholds residents.

Removal of an old one-story addition at the building’s center allowed for an interior courtyard that functions as a kind of shared living room. Sunlight now floods the widened corridors and 51 spacious living suites, reduced from 91 carved-up units during SRO days. A rooftop green garden was installed offering skyline views not typically associated with affordable housing.

What most impresses, though, are the non-institutional touches that make Buffett Place feel like home. The non-profit archi-treasures collected art by residents across the Thresholds network and integrated their images into a large woodcut spelling “home” in the new lobby. The ReBuilding Exchange salvaged hardwood joists and framing to craft one-of-a-kind benches, bookshelves and coat racks. The Chicago Botanic Garden helped with landscaping and greening of the courtyard, rooftop and other common areas. Thresholds installed a flower shop at sidewalk level on Sheffield, both to enliven the streetscape and help Buffett residents with their socialization and job skills.

Buffett Place, says CEO Mark Ishaug, not only reflects Thresholds’ “home, health and hope” motto, but “a new housing model for a vulnerable population.”