Past winners

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

Passing by the brightly lit, spacious Inspiration Kitchens along Lake Street, adjacent to Garfield Park, one would not guess that the space had once been considered just another abandoned manufacturing building—a testament to loss.

Wheeler Kearns Architects has given new meaning to the phrase “adaptive reuse” by transforming a blighted, virtually windowless 1906 brick structure and three adjacent, weed-strewn lots into a light-filled restaurant and community center that offers employment training, social services and meeting space.
An expansive façade of windows opens to the interior and illuminates the street at night. The high ceilings, brick walls and exposed beams of locally reclaimed wood make the restaurant simultaneously intimate and warm, while maintaining the original loft feel of the building. Intricate woodwork on the central walls shrouds a classroom/meeting room, storage spaces and a computer alcove provided for community use.

North-facing, saw-toothed skylights of high performance glass allow natural light to enter during the day and hold down energy costs. Energy efficient kitchen equipment further reduces energy costs and environmental damage, while solar thermal panels provide the energy to process hot water for the training and service kitchens. A sustainable garden has transformed the once-vacant lot into a vibrant urban green space that provides a backdrop for diners and cooks-in-training and fresh produce for the restaurant.

For its transformation of a long-neglected site to a great physical and social asset for the community, Wheeler Kearns is awarded the Second Place Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Award for Architectural Excellence in Community Design.