top of page



Boys and Girls Clubs of Chicago Rusu-McCartin Club


Chicago, IL, United States

June 2023


Katherine Darnstadt (Founding Principal), Nicolas Anderson (Design / Technical)


BEAR Construction (Contractor), Rockey Structures (Structural), C.C. Johnson Malhotra (MEPFP), Omni Ecosystems (Landscape), Interior Graphics (Maude Group


Boys and Girls Clubs of Chicago | Michael Crowley President + CEO


Tom Harris


Every material was chosen with resiliency in mind, to minimize maintenance + replacement costs for 60 years. To maximize efficiency + minimize use of finished construction materials, structural concrete finishes were used at the walls, ceilings, + columns. The gym area features an elegant array of post-tensioned, tapered concrete beams that support the green roof + terrace on the second floor. To create a comfortable + healthy indoor environment, the building incorporates a low window to wall ratio with fixed, solarban® 60 low-e + argon insulated glazing. This LEED Silver design promotes exceptional air quality for the occupants, as the building acts as a closed system with high Merv filtration. The programmatic design places a strong emphasis on natural light, complemented using LEDs and motion sensors, allowing for the effective utilization of natural light during most operating hours. The design of our building is strategically crafted to promote physical activity + enhance the mental well-being of the children at BGCC. We understand the importance of fitness, which is why our facility offers a state-of-the-art gymnasium that provides a safe + inclusive space for kids to engage in life-changing physical activities. From walking the stairs between floors to enjoying fresh air at the rooftop deck, our building encourages easy-access physical activity. Our design enhances the overall safety for students living in an uncertain portion of the city with safe outdoor + indoor play spaces, + a large outdoor rooftop classroom buffered by a sustainable green roof + flower garden.


Situated on the West Side of Chicago in Austin, this project provides unique opportunities to enable all young people, especially those most in need, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. The new Rusu-McCartin Club is the first new construction Boys and Girls Club in Chicago in nearly 50 years + will anchor the Joint Public Safety Campus on the West Side. The 3-story building provides facilities for local youth to engage in a broad offering of programs that promote leadership development, academic success, and healthy lifestyles. Through our extensive outreach for the JPSTC Phase 1A feasibility study we were ultimately able to incorporate all constituents needs into an iconic new resource that will continue to build bridges between young people, leaders, + first responders. As part of a comprehensive 10-session engagement plan, we actively involved students from eight local schools, ranging from elementary to high school, as well as members from six Boys and Girls Clubs in the vicinity of the project site. Through these engagement sessions, our project team gained a deeper understanding of the wants + needs of the end-users for the overall project. The stakeholders expressed overwhelming positivity + excitement about the project, emphasizing the value it will bring to the neighborhood. “It means a lot to be able to allow our students to have a voice... This is a perfect example of them being able to demonstrate good citizenship.” - CPS teacher on the engagement.


Our work centers at the intersection between design + community development to create social, economic, + environmental impact. We believe that our architectural solution reflects the aspirations + values of the kids it serves. The form of the building is influenced by the surrounding JPSTC site + its relationship to Chicago’s skyline as a visual source of inspiration. The interior layout of the building was strategically planned to accommodate classrooms + a circulation spine along a linear structural concrete core, effectively dividing the structure into three stories facing Chicago Ave to the north, + a double-height gymnasium to the south. This massing allowed for the private green roof deck to be in the sun facing south while stepping up to the height of the JPSTC at the northwest. Screening views to the future training grounds that would be constructed to the south was also a prerequisite for the project. On top of the double height gymnasium sits an outdoor deck adjacent to a growing meadow and a large flexible classroom space. The screen wall features two distinct openings. The “City Window” aims to inspire children + encourage them to pursue their dreams. The “JPSTC Window” serves as a reminder of the collaborative efforts made with First Responders to promote and establish healthy partnerships. These partnerships have proved successful through continued partnerships between youth members + first responders, changing cultural norms that have become the norm today.

bottom of page