As an affordable housing development, it was critical that the Rosa Parks Apartments were economical to build and sustainable in long-term operation and maintenance. To achieve these goals, it was necessary for a straightforward design with a limited number of parts and as few complicated details as possible. It was also necessary that the project, consisting of a 94-unit, tax credit community-based affordable rental apartment development, including eight buildings scattered across 21 city lots, be built quickly and securely.

The plan consisted of only two window types and a system of 739 precast exterior load-bearing wall panels. These were filled with 5.5-inch, blown-in formaldehyde-free fiberglass insulation. Steel frame and metal panel bays that only touch the precast, as well as simple, yet clean, common spaces and unit interiors, resulted in economical and sustainable structures. This community development consisted of a surprising variety of structures, as well as appropriate scale, color, and texture.

Although all of the buildings are mostly built to the same specs, the largest, a 27-unit, four-story elevator building, is in the process of being certified as LEED Silver. It includes solar thermal heat for domestic hot water, a geoexchange (geothermal) system with individual heat pumps, and a heat recovery system for the kitchen and bath exhaust.

All eight buildings were a part of the City of Chicago Green Homes Permit program.

Project Participants

OWNER: Bickerdike Redevelopment, Chicago

CONCRETE PRODUCER/CONTRACTOR: Presstress Engineering Corp., Prairie Grove, Ill.

ARCHITECT/DESIGNER: Landon Bone Baker Architects, Chicago


GENERAL CONTRACTOR: Humboldt Construction Co., Chicago

LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT: McKay Landscape Architects, Chicago

OTHER: J.T. Katrakis & Associates, Barrington, Ill.

OTHER: Prism Engineering Inc., Chicago