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North Lawndale Employment Network

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A place for new beginnings.

The North Lawndale Employment Network (NLEN) transformed a former bank building, with thick walls and few windows, into a welcoming, people-oriented enterprise that provides transitional jobs for individuals returning from incarceration and struggling with barriers to employment.

While the former bank hid its treasures, the design celebrates NLEN’s most important asset, its clients, by showcasing them working for the organization’s social enterprise at the heart of the building. With honey harvested from urban apiaries, clients process and package homegrown honey products in full view of inspired visitors, peering through windows opposite each entry.

Design interventions include new windows, a one-story glass addition, and multiple green spaces that transform the opaque façade and reanimate the site. Training spaces, a community event space, a private peace garden, a local bank, and a café featuring healthy food options and local African American baked goods, are designed to radiate dignity and worth for clients.

To learn more about NLEN’s mission click here!

General Contractor: UJAMMA Construction Inc.
Structural Engineer: Enspect Engineering
MEP/FP Engineer: dbHMS.
Civil Engineer: Terra Engineering
Landscape Architect: site design group
Interior Designer: Gary Lee Partners
Graphic Designer: A Perfect Sign, Inc.
Kitchen Consultant: Edge Associates
Owner’s Rep: IFF
Photography: Tom Harris Architectural Photography