Lathrop Community Partners
Bickerdike Redevelopment Corp.
Juan Gabriel Moreno Architects (JGMA)
Michael Van Valkenburgh Architects (MVVA INC.)
Chicago Housing Authority (CHA)
Lathrop, a historic affordable housing complex, was rehabilitated through a collaboration between the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) and Lathrop Community Partners (a development partnership of Related Midwest, Heartland Housing, and Bickerdike Redevelopment Corp.). Through the use of the HUD-sponsored Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program, the project qualified for federal historic tax credits. MHA provided historic tax credit and preservation expertise to the project. Renamed Lathrop, the expansive site now houses opportunities for both market-rate and affordable tenants as well as some mixed-use commercial spaces.
Lathrop Homes was originally constructed in 1938 as a Housing Division of the Public Works Administration (PWA) project along the North Branch of the Chicago River. A large team led by architect Robert DeGoyler designed 35 buildings that held 925 low-rent apartments for the site.
The design of the complex followed Regional Planning Association of America (RPAA)’s progressive principles of low-rise buildings set amongst green spaces rather than a neighborhood oriented towards automobile traffic. At Lathrop, buildings were pushed to the edges of the boundary streets with pathways connecting a central Great Lawn to other green spaces designed by Prairie School landscape architect Jens Jensen.
The Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) operated Lathrop Homes as public housing until 2011, when it recognized that the buildings required extensive rehabilitation work. In an effort to infuse new life into its Chicago affordable housing, CHA began partnering with private developers to bring their buildings across the city up to twenty-first century living standards. A new vision for the property infused a mix of market-rate, affordable, and CHA units.
The project presented many preservation challenges due to the size of the project and the adaptive reuse of the use of some Lathrop buildings. MHA was engaged to advise the redevelopment team on important historic preservation aspects of the site and navigate the reviews and solutions for adding new construction that met the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation. Significant preservation work at Lathrop included masonry repair and replacement with compatible brick and mortar replacements, historically appropriate window replacements, and reconfiguration of apartments for twenty-first century living.
The current rehabilitation of the site prioritized preserving the historic landscape designed by Jens Jensen wherever possible. These new uses continued the RPAA’s values of building a community- and pedestrian-focused housing development. The original Great Lawn, which was designed as a central point amongst the buildings, was preserved and rehabilitated by Michael Van Valkenburgh and Associates. The riverfront was reactivated by adding additional recreational uses to the existing outdoor space and updating pathways. New additions included a playground, kayak and boat launch, and dog park.
- Local Initiatives Support Corporation | 2021 Chicago Neighborhood Development Award - Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Award for Architectural Excellence in Community Design - Second Place
- AIA Chicago | 2020 Design Excellence Award - Distinguished Building Award Citation of Merit
- Engineering News-Record Midwest | 2020 Best Project Award for Residential/Hospitality
- Landmarks Illinois | 2020 Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Award for Rehabilitation
- Friends of the Chicago River | 2019 Silver Ribbon Award
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