Ray and Joan Kroc
Community Center

Chicago, Illinois

The design of the Corps Community Center overlays the Salvation Army mission of redemption with the desire for specific cultural connection to the Grand Boulevard neighborhood. Our project is organized around the combined Lobby and Atrium spaces that form a generous, sheltered and vibrant communal space. Structured with the sociability of a 'mall', our communal space is a remembrance of the vitality of State and 47th Streets. Our proposal creates a new village with a brick neighborhood nestled within larger limestone athletic elements. The Community Center slopes from the ground and reaches to the sky. Formally and functionally recalling the original 1920's era three level Binga Block (on State Street between 47th and 48th) the new brick 'Binga Block', stretches out along State Street in an appropriate low urban residential scale to reflect the existing neighborhood. The food court is serendipitously located on the original site of Nick and Angel's Hamburger Grill from the 1930's. Containing most of the Family Life and Education program and the primary Corps offices in the new Binga Block, important community needs are efficiently focused. Bleachers and plazas along State Street relate back to the neighborhood and DuSable High School with a welcoming, multi-use spirit.

Contemporary culture admixtures make the Community Center accessible to youth from the Trail of Murals to exterior 'car culture' waystations. Partnerships with 'The University of Hip Hop', 'Gallery 37' and 'After School Matters' can build on successful existing Chicago youth mentoring programs. Technology extends the Salvation Army's mission in an educational and interactive manner that parallels the Salvation Army's neighborhood immersion ethic. Internal and external video projection, link the neighborhood to the dynamic life of the Community Center broadcasting a mini-panorama of events.

With a fully sustainable project that adds nearly 130,000 sf of green roofs and many acres of greenspace to the city landscape, the Corps Community Center embraces Chicago's remarkable green mandate as outlined in the 2005 Green Building Agenda. It is our hope that this unique combination of social cause and fully sustainable architecture can affect positive spiritual, economic and educational change in peoples lives and exemplify the shared aspirations of the Salvation Army, the Grand Boulevard neighborhood and the long standing tradition of innovative Chicago architecture.

In association with Cannon Design and Vernon Williams Architects PC