Ensuring healthy urban environments

The built environment influences how we experience the world – the routes we travel, buildings we embrace, trails we bike, parks we visit, and the people we engage. It includes our homes, commercial districts, open spaces, streets, and sidewalks, and comprises the varied environments that make up our cities and towns. Individually, these components are sometimes at odds with each other but collectively the design, scale, and use of materials impact our quality of life.

The Driehaus Foundation works to ensure the built environment is enhanced by the preservation and reuse of historic places, community-driven planning, and sustainable and well-designed new buildings and landscapes. These are key strategies for creating a sense of place that reflects an expansive and complex history and a shared future.


We support organizations and projects that advocate for effective policies, undertake urban planning aimed at the preservation of Chicago’s historic built fabric, protect its parks and open spaces, and otherwise celebrate and preserve the unique character of its neighborhoods. The Driehaus Foundation is committed to the idea that successful historic preservation, urban planning, and new architecture must be understood and undertaken as part of a decades-long continuum that endows a given city or town with a sense of place.


We focus our attention on organizations and projects that promote policies and outcomes in the following areas:

  • Historic preservation
  • Urban design and architecture
  • Placekeeping
  • Urban agriculture
  • Skills development in heritage trades, architecture, and design
  • Urban open space

We support organizations that encourage public awareness of these areas through:

  • Awards
  • Competitions
  • Charrettes
  • Exhibitions
  • Journals
  • Books

While we support a limited number of statewide and national organizations, our funding is primarily focused on Chicago.


The Built Environment funding program does not support capital campaigns.

Contact for more information

Senior Program Director
Built Environment
Brad White headshot
Browse our recent Built Environment grants.