Martin Avenue Apartments

Naperville, IL

A makeover that merges style and substance

When WJW was tapped to revamp and expand an affordable apartment building for seniors built nearly 50 years ago, we spotted the chance to increase sustainability and bolster quality of life for a community of seniors at extremely low income levels. 

Erected in 1971, the original three-story structure was ready to be reimagined. Though the front facade offered large, floor-to-ceiling windows, the existing entry felt dark and closed off — we imagined an open, airy reception space that would offer a bright, welcoming atmosphere, with a strong connection to a new resident common area and views to the rear courtyard beyond. The design prioritizes a maximum amount of common area by better utilizing existing space, while a five-story addition increases the number of available units from 122 to 190. 

Challenges presented by the original structure were transformed into opportunities: The connection point merging the original building with the new construction was complicated, requiring the navigation of pre-existing elements including a terrace and exit stairwell. Our solution? A one-story connector with a solarium and bistro, creating not only a bridge to the new wing but a standout design element that has now become the heart of the community.

The larger, upgraded housing community was designed with the environment in mind; both the existing structure and addition will achieve National Green Building Standard certification. Access to nature was top of mind, too — a new courtyard will allow residents to enjoy grilling, lounging, al-fresco dining and gardening, completing the design with amenities and compelling details that offer a comfortable home and elevated design to a community in need.

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