Press: Brick Industry Association

Enlace Wins Brick in Architecture Award (2022)

What happens when you scramble two similarly shaped materials together to create something new and boundary-pushing? In Chicago, the result is the flagship building of non-profit Enlace, a bold, statement-making design that interweaves brick and glass block, the interior with the exterior, and the community with the non-profit’s outreach.

Located in Chicago’s Little Village, a proud Mexican-American neighborhood, the Enlace building provides a welcoming space for locals seeking education opportunities, community programming, and violence prevention. The non-profit challenged the design team to conduct a block-to-block study of the urban qualities and materiality in the surrounding areas. Brick masonry and glass block emerged as a familiar palette for homes and corner commercial buildings throughout. Drawing upon brick and glass block’s almost limitless design potential, the team applied them in an innovative “weaving” fashion to create a familiar, yet inspiring, motif through masonry. The gradient of brick tones from yellow to deep red and the interlacing of glass block and opaque brick speak to the definition of the organization’s name, (“enlace” means to intertwine, or tie together) and is expressive of the organization’s mission of “connecting” and “coming together” with community.

The use of glass block on the corner of the building allows for natural light immersion throughout the day and night, creating a lantern effect at night, and establishing the Enlace building as a new beacon of community through its masonry detailing and articulation. Symbolically, the Enlace building serves as a metaphor for community, culture, and heritage through its innovative use of both brick and glass block as one woven element that harnesses and celebrates both community and the organization.

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