Rush University College of Nursing is a partner in Assemble Chicago, a design and redevelopment proposal selected by the city of Chicago for the Downtown Loop Site in the C40 Reinventing Cities Competition. (Photo Courtesy of Aesthetica Studio)
Rush University College of Nursing is a partner in Assemble Chicago, a design and redevelopment proposal selected by the city of Chicago for the Downtown Loop Site in the C40 Reinventing Cities Competition, an initiative to spur carbon-neutral urban regeneration in cities worldwide. The proposal is led by The Community Builders (TCB), a nationwide nonprofit real estate developer, and the world-renowned Chicago-based architecture firm Studio Gang, who partnered with several organizations and institutions, including the college.
The winner was announced by Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot during a press conference on Tuesday, June 15.
"This project is emblematic of the deeply positive impacts that community-driven neighborhood development can have on our entire city," said Mayor Lightfoot. "Not only will 'Assemble Chicago' help to address our city's need for more sustainable and affordable housing units, but it will also help to reinvigorate the surrounding Pritzker Park through infrastructure improvements. I want to thank The Community Builders/Studio Gang and their design partners for their ingenuity, hard work and commitment to making Chicago a better, more equitable place for all residents."
The proposed complex aims to add affordable housing and a community hub in Chicago’s Loop for low to moderate income households.
When TCB and Studio Gang set out to create Assemble Chicago, they reached out to Angela Moss, PhD, RN, APRN-BC, the college’s assistant dean for faculty practice, inviting the faculty practice to work on the project and help create a wellness clinic for the proposed complex. The Rush Nursing Office of Faculty Practice provides nursing services and direct care to diverse populations across the Chicago area.
“The college and TCB have been partners over six years,” explains Moss. “We worked together to found the Sue Gin Health Center on their Oakley Square property, and we have had great success.”
The Sue Gin Health Center, a clinic where health care is provided to residents of a mixed-income housing complex on Chicago’s West Side, was not only an inspiration for the design of Assemble Chicago but also a big reason why the college jumped at the chance to help create the project. Over the years, many college faculty clinicians — nurse practitioners and nurses — and nursing students have contributed to the clinic’s success in providing care for residents in an underserved community who need it.
“TCB’s idea was to replicate and scale up our successful Sue Gin/faculty practice model in the new property and improve the health and well-being of their residents and surrounding community, including many Loop-based homeless,” says Moss.
“So, when they asked us to help, it was an immediate (or easy) yes.”
Within weeks, Moss and members of the faculty practice team assembled content explaining what the clinic was and how it would contribute to the success of Assemble Chicago.
Responding to C40’s criteria and the city’s Design Excellence Guiding Principles, Assemble Chicago will help create a more sustainable, equitable and unified Chicago. The site includes four city-owned parcels for sale that the development teams will purchase and redevelop. The parcels are located at Plymouth Court and Van Buren Street in the heart of downtown Chicago, adjacent to public transit, and overlooking a reimagined Pritzker Park on State Street. The 20-story, carbon-neutral, mixed-use development will provide more than 200 units of affordable apartment housing.
Leveraging innovative building technologies and community partnerships, Assemble Chicago will reduce reliance on carbon and minimize waste. It will also promote urban gardening, biodiversity and other sustainable practices across Chicago.
“The Community Builders is honored to lead Assemble Chicago’s development. We thank Mayor Lightfoot and her team for prioritizing equity, sustainability, and unity with the selection of Assemble Chicago. This development’s unique and ambitious ground floor amenities and proposed park improvements will strengthen our downtown and neighborhoods together, while giving Chicagoans and visitors alike a new beautifully designed civic anchor in the Loop for celebrating, relaxing and coming together,” said Will Woodley, TCB’s regional vice president of real estate development. “Equally important, Assemble Chicago will provide much needed healthy, affordable residential opportunities for Chicago’s essential Downtown workforce earning $75,000 or less.”
In addition to the wellness clinic operated in partnership with the college, the first two levels of Assemble Chicago’s building plan, known as the “NeighborHub” will provide event, meeting and collaboration space for community-based nonprofits across Chicago, a food hall showcasing small, minority-owned restaurants and a produce grocer. This hub aims serve as a new civic anchor that strengthens downtown, promotes neighborhoods across the city and works to bring Chicagoans together.
“TCB are fantastic partners,” says Moss. “And this project directly aligns with the college’s faculty practice mission and vision to advance innovative nurse-led care delivery models for underserved populations and help communities live healthier.”
To learn more about Assemble Chicago, watch this video.