City Gardens


2017 Merit Award


Chicago, IL


Brinshore-Michaels Development Corporation



Landscape Architects

Project Details

Located on a former Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) public housing site in Chicago, City Gardens is a new rental development defined by its prioritization of community space and the beautiful gardens that encompass it. Thanks to a collaboration of Brinshore Development and the design team led by Landon Bone Baker Architects, City Gardens offers 76 apartments – a mix of market rate, affordable, and public housing units – contributing to urban revitalization through the building of quality living conditions for all, regardless of income level. The landscape, designed by McKay Landscape Architects, is a defining characteristic of City Gardens and key to the overall success of this project.

A defunct, elevated rail line and its embankment along the site’s western edge led to the arrangement of seven three-story buildings along the site’s perimeter and the creation of a central courtyard dedicated to community use. The courtyard functions as the heart of the development, featuring a community building, a recycling center, indoor community space, and an expansive outdoor commons where residents can garden, gather, and play. The commons features a generous community garden, picnic area with grills, and several seating areas. A large play lawn with two sodded berms adds a sense of whimsy. A required fire lane extends the commons westward, doubling as a plaza for the residents, protected from traffic by removable traffic bollards.

The plant palette for the project was developed with maintenance requirements in mind. Lawn was limited to the central play lawn and parkways at the site’s perimeter. All other landscaped areas consist of native and adaptive plants that can withstand long periods of drought and do not require excessive pruning or deadheading during the growing season. Experiencing this textural landscape – more wild than manicured – embedded in its larger, urban neighborhood – is the primary opportunity for residents to engage with natural beauty and to observe the natural systems they are a part of. Studies have shown that interacting with natural beauty has many beneficial impacts including improved mental health, improved concentration, and a decrease in stress. The investment in the landscape demonstrates a high level of respect for the residents. In turn, the residents of City Gardens respect their environment, feel a sense of ownership, and are proud to call City Gardens home.

Project Team

Project Team: Landon Bone Baker Architects; Prism Engineering

Products Used in the Built Project: Landscape Forms (Bike Rack); Calpipe Security Bollards (Security Bollards)

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