Studio Gang and The Community Builders win C40 Cities Chicago Loop competition

C40 Cities Chicago Loop

The Community Builders and Studio Gang as the winners of the City of Chicago’s C40 Reinventing Cities, a competition initiated by the C40 to implement the best ideas to transform underutilized sites or buildings into beacons of sustainability and resilience and act as a showcase for future zero-carbon urban developments. The team’s design and development proposal, ‘Assemble Chicago,’ is a carbon-neutral, affordable high-rise that will create a “stunning transformation” of underutilized land at Van Buren Street and Plymouth Court in Chicago’s Loop.

“This project is emblematic of the deeply positive impacts that community-driven neighborhood development can have on our entire city,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “Not only will ‘Assemble Chicago’ help to address our city’s need for more sustainable and affordable housing units, but it will also help to reinvigorate the surrounding Pritzker Park through infrastructure improvements.” Sited in the heart of downtown, the 20-story, mixed-use building will connect to a revitalized Pritzker Park on State Street and overlook the Harold Washington Library Center, the main branch of the Chicago Public Library system.

The building is composed of a highly public multilevel ‘NeighborHub’ base, a renewed Pritzker Park, and a residential tower. The NeighborHub will host ecological, community development, and cultural programming for Chicago’s community-based nonprofits and a food hall to highlight minority-owned, local businesses. It will also bring a produce grocer and a medical clinic to the heart of downtown, opening directly onto a reinvigorated Pritzker Park to transform the whole site into a vibrant indoor-outdoor civic hub.

Rising above this, 207 efficient and healthy living spaces will house Downtown’s moderate- and lower-income workforce earning 30 to 80 percent of the Chicago area median income (AMI), equivalent a salary range of $19,000 and $73,000. Each apartment features a contemporary version of Chicago’s classic bay window to draw in ample natural daylight and fresh air. Stacked over the height of the tower, the bays create a rhythmic, vertically articulated façade that resonates with the architectural character of the Loop’s historic buildings while introducing contemporary materials and technologies that dramatically increase the building’s environmental performance.

“Evolving Chicago’s architectural traditions with 21st-century building technologies to address the urgent crises of housing inequality and climate change, our design establishes Studio Gang’s first fully affordable residential community within C40’s ambitious, carbon-neutral framework in the heart of downtown.” said Studio Gang Founding Partner Jeanne Gang. “With a vibrant base that connects to a rejuvenated Pritzker Park and an elegant exterior that harmonizes with Downtown’s historical context, Assemble Chicago will create a new civic hub for all Chicagoans and provide a model for sustainable development for cities worldwide.”

Driven by C40’s ambitions to cultivate carbon neutral and resilient urban regeneration across the world, Assemble Chicago is targeting LEED Platinum with LEED Zero Energy and Zero Carbon. ⁠Leveraging creative community partnerships and innovative building technologies, the design works to reduce carbon pollution, minimize waste, and promote urban biodiversity and gardening, establishing a new model for resilient and equitable development for post-COVID Chicago. “The Community Builders (TCB)’s mission is to build and sustain strong communities where all people can thrive,” said Regional Vice President for Real Estate Development Will Woodley.

“Our 50+ years of experience has taught us that well designed buildings and spaces- thoughtful, pragmatic, innovative, and beautiful design- has the power to positively change lives. Good design improves the lives of the residents and the outcomes of the small businesses in our buildings. Good design improves the communities surrounding our buildings. Our exceptional design team led by Studio Gang delivers an impactful architecture that addresses climate change and inequity while bringing Chicagoans together in a development that will strengthen the Loop”

The site, currently occupied by a vacant parking garage and vacant land, would be sold to the Community Builders for $1, pending approval by City Council. In total, Assemble Chicago is estimated at approximately $102 million and includes a $2 million contribution to improve Pritzker Park, which will continue to serve as a public park for all Chicagoans. Source and images Courtesy of Studio Gang.

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