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Unity Temple, Rosenwald Courts among preservation award winners

Landmarks Illinois has just unveiled the 2017 Driehaus Foundation Preservation Award winners

The exterior of a building which is a temple. The facade is brown brick. Nick Fochtman

The $25 million renovation of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unity Temple and the extensive overhaul of the Rosenwald Courts apartments in Bronzeville join several other notable projects on this year’s list of 2017 Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Award winners from Landmarks Illinois. Every year, the group acknowledges preservation efforts and the architects, developers, and communities that work to renovate and restore architecturally and historically significant buildings throughout the state.

Driehaus Foundation Preservation Award winners in northern and central Illinois include:

  • Unity Temple in Oak Park: Award for Restoration
  • Rosenwald Courts in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood: Award for Rehabilitation
  • All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago’s Ravenswood: Award for Restoration
  • Friends of the Edwards House in Downers Grove: Project of the Year Award for Advocacy
  • Aurora St. Charles Senior Living in Aurora: Award for Rehabilitation
  • Joliet Central High School Student Center Addition in Joliet: Award for Rehabilitation
  • District 2 Police Station in Rockford: President’s Award for Adaptive Use
  • Cooperage 214 in Peoria: Award for Adaptive Use

In addition to the projects listed, noted preservationist Charles Staples was awarded the Joe Antunovich Award for Leadership.

Rosenwald Courts
Jay Koziarz

Regarding the renovation of the Rosenwald Courts apartments in Bronzeville, Landmarks Illinois suggests that the project could be views as a model to developers, “proving that no project is too big, and is an inspiring example of how historic preservation can come to serve the diverse needs of communities.”

Landmarks Illinois President and CEO Bonnie McDonald also adds that the renovation is more than purely nostalgic. “The rehabilitation of Rosenwald Court Apartments has not only provided housing the community needed, but has also served as a signal to residents that their neighborhood is worth investing in,” McDonald says in the announcement. “The project recognized that this building was an important part of the community’s past and should be part of its future.”

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unity Temple in Oak Park
Nick Fochtman

The completion of Unity Temple’s restoration this year was a significant one as 2017 marks the 150th birthday of Frank Lloyd Wright. The $25 million makeover was led by Gunny Harboe, a Chicago-based architect who has also worked on numerous other sensitive renovation projects around the Chicago area. The painstaking restoration not only saw the restoration of historic details, but it also included the addition of modern features like a geothermal HVAC system.

“The transformative restoration of this internationally renowned work allows for the continued use for worship by the congregation, improved experience for architectural tourists and improved functionality for community programming,” Landmarks Illinois writes in regards to the Unity Temple restoration effort. And indeed, the finished restoration is truly a breathtaking sight.