Built Form, LLC LLP 



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.

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.



Breakthrough Urban Ministries


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

Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
Arden D. Freeman AIA (Design Partner, Registered)
Dave Nayman (Project Architect)
Cara McConnell (Junior Designer)

Architect of record

Built Form, LLC

Interior designer

Built Form, LLC


407 S. Dearborn St. Suite 900
Chicago, IL. 60605

MEP & Life Safety:
Advance Consulting Group International
300 West Adams, Suite 420
Chicago IL. 60606


Daniel Weinbach & Partners, Ltd.
53 West Jackson Blvd., Suite 250
Chicago, IL. 60604

Design Consultants of Food Service Facilities:
EF Whitney, Inc.
568 Ann Street
Birmingham MI 48009

General contractor

Pepper Construction
643 North Orleans Street
Chicago, IL. 60610


Alan Shortall Photography
2650 West Belden, Suite 212
Chicago, IL. 60647


Built Form, LLC

CAD system, project management, or other software used:
AutoCad, 3D Max, Adobe Photoshop



Structural system

Existing steel frame and precast deck w/new steel roof joist at single story portion of building and new load bearing masonry walls on three sides.

Exterior cladding

Masonry: Glen-Gery Marseilles Plant, Sahara Velour Utility Brick

Metal panel: Millennium Tile, Natural finish without shadow cup


Sure-Weld fully-adhered White on black .045” thick EPDM roof system on top of R43 rigid insulation (Down Thermax Sheathing polyisocyanurate insulation)

Solar Thermal Collectors for hot water
Solargenix Energy (Panels Donated by City of Chicago)


Vinyl Windows: Republic Windows (Contour Series)


Glass: Republic Windows

Skylights: Bristolite Skylights


Entrances: Aluminum storefront Kawneer Series 350 with clear anodized finish.

Metal doors: Painted Hollow Metal

Wood doors: Algoma Hardwood Plain Sliced Cherry Veneer

Sliding doors: Thermacore Overhead Garage Door


Locksets: IR Security & Safety Falcon T-Series

Hinges: Aluminum geared continuous hinge at entry doors

Closers: IR Security & Safety SC70-Series

Exit devices: Monarch 18 Series

Pulls: Ives

Security devices: Monarch 18 Series

Interior finishes

Acoustical ceilings: USG Astro Clima Plus

Suspension grid: USG Centricitee DXL and Donn DX Ceiling Grid

Paints and stains: Pittsburg Paints

Plastic laminate: Formica

Special surfacing: Stained Concrete by Scolfield, Perma-Cast Sierra Stain over Proflow leveling compound. Florock Floroquartz Epoxy flooring in Kitchen.

Floor and wall tile: Daltile Porcelain tile used in bathrooms

Carpet: Shaw Contract Group Carpeting (Partial Donation)and Interface Floor Carpeting with Armstrong Vinyl Base


Office furniture: Donated

Gathering Space furniture: IKEA

Dining Room Chairs: Costco

Dining Room Tables: Costco

Classroom furniture: IKEA

Bed’s with storage: Custom by Solid Rock Carpenters (Donation)


Interior ambient lighting: Duray fluorescent and parabolic lighting, Columbia Indirect fluorescent

Downlights: Spectrum downlights


Elevators/Escalators: Otis Telescopic Hydraulic Elevator

Accessibility provision (lifts, ramping, etc.): Concrete slab-on-grade ramp.


American Standard, Acorn, Elkay and Zurn

Add any additional building components or special equipment that made a significant contribution to this project:
Awarded an Energy Grant from Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Energy Efficient Construction Affordable Housing Program.

Some of the energy grant features included:

  • A 6000 sf pervious concrete parking lot (by Ozinga)with overflow exfiltration trench.
  • A 3500 sf garden.
  • Exterior Walls insulated to a minimum R19 with a combination of Celulose blown insulation, rock wool, and foam insulation.  Batt Insulation was not permitted.
  • New roof insulated to a minimum average of R43.
  • Low-E double glazed windows with maximum U-value of 0.35(window unit)
  • Energy Star rated RTUs, Air Conditioners and refrigerators.
  • All pipes and ducts to be located in conditioned spaces.
  • Fluorescent light fixtures are used in all common areas.
  • Twenty Winston CPC Solar thermal collectors for a 250 gallon domestic hot water heating system.