Illinois Institute of Technology College of Architecture students are partnering with a Chicago developer and alderman to build homes in the city’s Englewood neighborhood for what is called a “missing” demographic in the home building world: middle class families.
The plan took shape when project client and Englewood-raised Kenny Smith, CEO of the nonprofit Wholistic Community Development Association, walked into S. R. Crown Hall last year and asked for help designing homes for a new project to reinvigorate the neighborhood.
The project grew to include Chicago Alderman Stephanie Coleman (16th Ward), whose district includes her home community of Englewood, and a dozen students in a fifth-year studio led by Adjunct Professor Steven Pantazis.
“It’s not that folks don’t make enough to live in nice housing,” Coleman says. “The stock just isn’t there. The same people want to live in clean, modern, and efficient homes.”
For students, the project is deceptively straightforward—design a home that the “missing middle” can afford, Pantazis says. “Speculative developers are building affordable housing for socio-economically challenged buyers, or they aim for high-end luxury. No one is targeting middle-income people. A lot are moving to the suburbs because housing isn’t available.”
Houses or classic Chicago two-flats are slated to be built on more than 20 empty lots southwest of the intersection of South Halsted and West 63rd streets.
The first home built as part of the project will be based on a student design, which is an opportunity rarely afforded to students—seeing their schematics become reality. “The studio is somewhat unique for an architecture school,” Pantazis says. “It’s an opportunity for students to work with a real client with the potential of seeing their designs built.”
Photo provided by: John Mulvey (ARCH 5th Year)