Aspire Center

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Transforming a shuttered elementary school into a focal point and community hub for the Austin neighborhood.

LJC has been working with Austin Coming Together (ACT) for several years on the design, translating ACT’s vision into the Workforce Innovation Center.  Building on the community input gathered in the Austin Quality of Life Plan; this initiative will manifest the plan actions to reconstruct the community narrative, spur economic development, and affect youth empowerment in the Austin community.

Commitment to the Community

The Aspire Center was a finalist for the Pritzker Traubert Foundation’s Chicago Prize, a $10 million investment toward the final plan and its community. Aspire is led by Austin Coming Together and Westside Health Authority with numerous partners within the community and beyond.

The Aspire Center for Workforce Innovation aims to convert a site indicative of historic disinvestment into a beacon of resources and economic development for the Austin community. The currently closed Robert Emmet Public School’s renovation will restore the existing classrooms to functional spaces that meet current workforce development and training needs – from advanced manufacturing to small business incubation.   Including new retail space, the center will create 50 new jobs within the first five years within the targeted geography. By 2030, the initiative will increase the income of 500 Austinites and help 250 more acquire financing for businesses or purchase properties.


Austin Coming Together


Chicago, IL


30,000 SF


  • Architecture
  • Landscape Architecture
  • Planning + Urban Design