It’s an exciting time for Pullman, the neighborhood on Chicago’s far South Side that President Barack Obama declared a national monument in February. Learn more about Pullman’s significance in labor relations, architecture and community organizing in the summer issue of DePaul Magazine, and explore one graduate’s impact on the neighborhood in the article below.
As plans form to develop the Pullman Historic District into a welcoming and educational national monument site, businessman and philanthropist Richard H. Driehaus (BUS ’65, MBA ’70, DHL ’02) is helping to jumpstart this process through his namesake foundation. In September 2014, The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation awarded a $40,000 grant to Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives (CNI), a community development organization focused on strengthening low- to moderate-income neighborhoods on the West Side and far South Side. CNI is using the funding to oversee a design competition for a new arts building in Pullman.
The Pullman Artspace Lofts are intended to be a creative hub for artists to live, work and collaborate. “This will be first new building in the historic fabric in some time, and we hope it can provide a good example for further redevelopment,” shares Driehaus. The new structure will connect two vacant apartment buildings, which will also be renovated as part of the project. In addition to CNI, other Pullman Artspace Lofts collaborators include the PullmanArts, a group of local artists focused on neighborhood revitalization, and Artspace Inc., a national leader in artist-led community transformation.
While the design competition is open to any Chicago architect, the jury will be looking for candidates with past experience in multi-family, tax-credit-financed housing, a commitment to sustainable architecture and a proven record of designs that respect and reinforce historical context. “This is an opportunity to not only help protect Pullman’s special architectural character but also to encourage others to do the same in the future,” Driehaus explains. To that end, the seven-person jury includes two historians who are knowledgeable about Pullman and 19th-century architecture, as well as experts in artist-focused housing.
Approximately 18,500 square feet of land has been set aside for the project, with the historic apartment buildings on either end of the lot. From an initial pool of 20 architects, the jury chose 10 semifinalists to submit preliminary design drawings. Stipends will be awarded to three finalists to refine their drawings further before the overall winner is selected this summer. CNI hopes that work on the building will begin later this year.
As momentum for the project grows, Driehaus is eager to see how the Pullman Artspace Lofts impact and invigorate an already vibrant community. “The Pullman Historic District has so many of the qualities we are once again looking for in our cities—walkable streets, a unified and humane architectural character that creates a sense of place, and good transportation connections,” he says. “I love the idea that urban innovation can also mean preserving and improving special places we already have.” On a final note, he encourages DePaul alumni, faculty, students and friends to visit Pullman. “Get down there and explore the neighborhood,” he urges. “See what makes it worth all the attention it’s getting.”