Location: Chicago, IL
Size: 6,000 sf
Structural Engineer: Rocky Structures LLC
MEP Engineer: dbHMS
Civil Engineer: SPACECO
SOS Children’s Villages is an international nonprofit organization that builds communities and offers services to help foster children grow in safe environments. It operates 140 villages in 132 nations, including two in the City of Chicago. In 2007, architectural firm Studio Gang designed the Lavezzorio Community Center for SOS Children’s Villages in the Auburn-Gresham neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side. As part of the village’s masterplan, architect Jeanne Gang selected two teams for the campus’s last two housing projects. Longo Park Design Workshop is designing the multi-family residential and social services building on the southwest lot.
Given the mission of SOS, it is important to study the campus’s impact on the larger South Side neighborhood, the Auburn-Gresham revitalization and the SOS village itself. Similar to the community center at the entry of the site, the new housing projects provide a visual bookend to the residential boulevard. They also serve as a gateway to the campus’s recreation and garden areas to the south.
Three elements influence the project’s design: community grids, village faces and program. Two geometrical grids organize the campus. The inner community grid relates to the individual housing units situated in rows along the boulevard. The outer community grid relates to the diagonal train lines that enclose the site. The project has three public faces: the village garden to the south, the village residences of the boulevard to the west and the elevated train line above. Three different groups will use the building: biological parents, relief parents and returning college students. Individuals will have their own bedroom and bathroom, though each will share a common living room and kitchen.
From the outside, shared common spaces are visually different from bedroom spaces. The bedroom areas are clad in brick, a material used throughout the campus. But the shared common spaces, which are positioned to articulate the site’s three public faces, are separate box-like areas that are canted toward the outer community grid. Each of these common spaces is clad in an exterior grade fiberboard panel etched with a distinct, but different, pattern that reflects both the huge number of foster children that SOS Children’s Villages has helped and the delicacy of each child’s family circumstance.