Past winners

Landon Bone Baker for Harvest Commons: 1st Place Driehaus Award for Architectural Excellence

For creating a welcoming new presence in the neighborhood that supports growth in the rapidly changing community and preserves a legendary Chicago landmark, Landon Bone Baker is the 2014 winner of the First Place Richard H. Driehaus Award for Architectural Excellence in Community Design, for Harvest Commons.

Opened in 1930 as the Union Park Hotel, this six-story, terracotta-and-brick building on Chicago’s Near West Side is a Chicago landmark and classic example of Art Deco architecture. Still, in recent years the building fell on hard times. The structure wore signs of its several transformations: first, an “apartment hotel” and later as the Viceroy Hotel, one of the city’s many SROs, which advertised a cheap place to sleep.

The Viceroy Hotel has been born again as Harvest Commons Apartments, an affordable housing development and supportive services project designed by Landon Bone Baker Architects that seeks to contribute to the on-going rejuvenation of the Near West Side.

Working with Heartland Housing to save the neighborhood icon, Landon Bone Baker took pains to preserve the historic structure. The team undertook a major restoration of the lobby, uncovering long-buried motifs of flowers and ears of corn. The architects looked to decades-old documents, plans and photographs to maintain the building’s historic integrity as they renovated the front stairway, barrel vaults and exterior façade. The preserved plasterwork in the ground-floor communal space and the restored luster of the earth-toned terrazzo floors in the lobby speak to the building’s history.

In coordination with Heartland’s vision, Landon Bone Baker reconfigured residential floors to reduce the number of units from 150 to 89 studio apartments. Harvest Commons is a safe, supportive and healthy living environment for near-homeless individuals and women recently released from prison.

The hotel has been restored to be much more than an apartment building. The long-vacant ground floor is now a social enterprise café and teaching kitchen in which residents take classes about nutrition and food preparation. Outside, a garden provides therapeutic opportunities for residents, as well as a way of engaging closely in sustainable urban agriculture.

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.

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