2011 Recipient | AIA Housing Awards

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Armstrong Place Senior and Family Housing | Notes of Interest

This complex development fills a formerly industrial city block with an innovative housing mix: affordable, urban townhomes to keep growing families in the city, and family townhomes adjacent to senior apartments to prevent seniors from living in isolation.

The senior building, with 116 rental units, serves as the anchor; it houses neighborhood-serving retail and presents an iconic tower at the corner. The LEED-Gold-Registered building features many complementary green strategies, including storm-water management, solar arrays, and healthy interiors.

To reflect the traditionally African-American population, the building incorporates Afro-centric design elements: a “quilt wall” inspired by African textiles wraps the public face, and the courtyard walls are inset with Ashanti symbols representing wisdom, unity, and hope.

A pedestrian-oriented, landscaped mews connects the building to the neighboring family townhouses, designed for first-time homebuyers.

The family development consists of 124 stacked townhouses in two mirrored U-shaped buildings and a row of duplexes that buffers the homes from the adjacent train tracks.

Connected to the city streets through stoops and balconies, the main buildings wrap the central court, which serves as a mid-block passage and neighborhood amenity. The courtyard features active uses for all ages, including vegetable gardens, outdoor seating, a rain garden, and a picnic and play areas.

Additional Credits

  • Associate Architecture Firms: Full Circle Architecture; TSH International Architecture + Design
  • Contractors: Nibbi Brothers General Contractors; Roberts Obayashi Corporation
  • Landscape Architect: Adrienne Wong Associates
  • Lighting Consultant: Horton Lees Brogden
  • Structural Engineers: Structural Design Engineers; OLMM Consulting Engineers
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  • Photo Credit: © Brian Rose

Armstrong Place Senior and Family Housing

Jury Comments

Just... fun! The architect takes a complex program and enlivens it and creates a wonderfully playful place.

Joyful, bold, and full of life.

This shows a great collaboration of site, purpose, and design.

2011 AIA Housing Awards Jury

  • Katherine Austin, AIA, Chair
  • Katherine Austin Architect
  • Sebastopol, Calif.
  • Claire Conroy
  • Residential Architecture Magazine
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Mike Jackson, FAIA
  • Historical Preservation Agency
  • State of Illinois
  • Springfield, Ill.
  • Luis Jauregui, AIA
  • Jaurequi, Inc.
  • Austin, Tex.
  • Marilys Nepomechie, FAIA
  • Florida International University Miami
  • Coconut Grove, Fla.

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