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October 10, 2017
Lathrop, Honoring the Past while Reimagining the Future
During the Great Depression, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) assembled teams of well-regarded architects to design much-needed housing for low -income families throughout Chicago. Julia C. Lathrop Homes was one such development, but was unusual in terms of its location on the Chicago River on the northside and its diverse workforce population. Its low-density, low-rise walkups would serve several generations in need.

Almost a century later, as part of Chicago Housing Authority’s Plan for Transformation, Lathrop is undergoing a comprehensive revitalization. In early October, officials embarked on the first phase of its site’s rebirth as an affordable/mixed income community under a plan developed by Lathrop Community Partners, a partnership of Related Midwest, Heartland Housing, and Bickerdike Redevelopment Corp.

The tradition of collaboration among architects and designers is also continued in the Lathrop redevelopment. The project has been designed by JGMA - Design Architect, Harley Ellis Devereaux (HED)- Executive Architect, Landscape Architect - Michael Van Valkenburgh (MVVA), and Exterior Preservationist - McGuire Igleski & Associates (MIA). The design team has reimagined the historic 35-acre development through a multi-phased masterplan that honors the original intent of the famed landscape architect Jens Jensen and creates a vibrant attraction on the City’s rapidly redeveloping riverfront.

"It started back in 1938. The world was changing, the economy was changing. People were being left behind. And what was true back then is still true today — that housing is foundational.” said Michael Goldberg, executive director for Heartand Housing “And what I mean by that is that we can't expect families to thrive ... to improve their quality of life ... if they don't have a safe, stable and decent place to live."

Phase 1 consists of the preservation and modernization of 16 historic buildings on the north half of the site. Phase 1 will provide a redeveloped riverfront, six acres of green space, and completely renovated historic structures. Upon full completion, the revitalized Lathrop will be a bustling, diverse and sustainable neighborhood connecting two of the City’s most prominent areas.

HED contributed its integrated design expertise and extensive housing knowledge to modernize the historic structures, address accessibility challenges and coordinate new systems not imagined in the original structures.

“We’ve been honored to work with Lathrop residents, affordable housing advocates, Mayor Emanuel and Alderman Moreno to renew the proud legacy of this historic site,” said Curt Bailey, President of Related Midwest. “We are committed to investing in the communities where we work and live. Lathrop revitalization is setting a new standard for mixed-income living and riverfront restoration in Chicago and across the world.”

Harley Ellis Devereaux: HED Advances Your World. Founded in 1908 We seek creative solutions that have a Positive Impact for our Clients, The Community, and the World. HED serves clients in a broad range of market sectors including Workplace, Housing, Mixed Use, Science, Healthcare, Higher Education and Pre K-12 + Community Education with offices in six locations nationally. See how we advance your world at

Lathrop Community Partners, LLC is a three-party development team comprised of: Related Midwest, Heartland Housing, Bickerdike Redevelopment Corp.
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