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Breakthrough Ministry Center

Chicago, Illinois
Built Form, LLC

A renovated ministry offers a home to those without in Chicago’s West Side.

Breakthrough Ministry Center is a 24,000-square-foot facility that provides support services for homeless or unemployed men on Chicago’s West Side. Located in the East Garfield Park neighborhood, the project is a renovation of a two-story building, and the integration of five neighboring lots into a garden and staff parking lot.

Breakthrough Ministry Center
Photo © Alan Shortall
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The project, completed in July 2008, evolved over a four-year span. It came with its challenges: the need to adapt to donated materials, program changes, a fluctuating budget, and surprises that arose when the existing structure was revealed. The project grew from an interior renovation into a major reconstruction, and the architects established a series of simple design goals that continually redefined the project as it evolved.

The main floor of the center includes a sleeping area for up to 30 men, 5 single occupancy units, a commercial kitchen, a dining area, a gathering space, a job-training center, and all necessary support spaces.

Security was an issue in the design process, but so was the creation of a welcoming ambiance. The dining room, gathering space, and gallery corridor are all open spaces with multiple site lines, yet they also offer a degree of privacy. The walls and floors are neutral colors, typically stained concrete.

The exterior facade maintains the massing and window openings as they were in the original structure, as well as the scale. The use of brick at street level is consistent with the former building, but the upper portion features stainless steel panels to add a new dimension to the building.

Sustainable features include hot water provided by solar thermal panels. The parking surface is constructed of pervious concrete and was designed to minimize the amount of paved surface area. The garden, designed as a gathering space and staff retreat, is landscaped with native grasses and plants.

Formal name of project:
Breakthrough Ministry Center

Location:
402 North St. Louis
Chicago, Illinois 60647

Gross square footage:
24,000 sq. ft.

Total construction cost:
$4,500,000

Owner:
Breakthrough Urban Ministries

Completion Date (Month and Year): July 2008

Architect:
Built Form, LLC
311 North Aberdeen, Suite 200c
Chicago, IL. 60607     
(p) 312.738.3835
(f) 312.738.3864

About the people and products behind this project

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