Chicago Disruptive Housing


Winning entry by Greg Tamborino


If cities in the U.S. are anticipating funding from government entities to solve a dire need for affordable housing, they should be prepared for a long wait. The national government, a traditional source of funds for such projects, has shown little if no interest in the issue, and state and local sources are at a minimum. To exacerbate the problem, the construction cost of affordable housing has risen exponentially the the past few decades. Gone are those days when architects such as Oakland-based Michael Pyatok could build affordable housing for $100 a square foot.


Chicago’s history of affordable housing is hardly a model—highrises such as Robert Taylor Homes and Cabrini-Green, just to name the more high-profile examples. Added to that was a refusal by developers to build modern competition winners in the 90s. In an attempt to alleviate the housing problem, though in piecemeal fashion, Chicago’s local AIA Chapter has teamed up with the local housing authority, as well as other backers, to investigate affordable, market housing solutions for infill sites. This was intended to at least address the cost of housing, if not to build affordable housing on a large scale. Two such sites of these owner-occupied projects were designated in an open, anonymous competition format. The cost of each proposal was not to exceed $300,000. There was no fee to enter, and an expert jury was named to adjudicate the entries. The latter consisted of:


• David Baker, FAIA, David Baker Architects, San Francisco, CA

• Amy Mayer, Vice President of Construction, Related Midwest, Chicago, IL

• Monica Chadna, AIA, Founder/Principal, Civic Projects, Chicago, IL

• Dr. Mindy Thompson Fullilove, Professor of Urban Policy and Health, Parsons/The New School, New York, NY

• Judith Frydland, Commissioner, Chicago Dept. of Buildings

• Ramona Westbrook, AIA, Principal, Brook Architecture, Chicago, IL


The jury was charged with selecting the finalists based on the following:

• Compliance with all submission requirements

• Adherence to the design parameters

• Believable constructibility within identified budget parameters

• Suitability of design for intended use

• Aesthetic merit

Above: Phase 1 entry board (©Greg Tamborino, Perkins & Will)


The Process

Three designs from phase 1 of the competition, which drew 133 entries, were then provided with a stipend of $10,000 each to fine-tune their designs before submitting for a final stage. At the announcement of a winner, funding was to be provided by developer, Related Midwest, for the construction of a prototype dwelling. The finalists were:


Greg Tamborino, AIA, Perkins + Will

Joel Huffman, Vertu Architecture + Design, Chicago

Georgi Todorov, AIA& Petya Petrova, IIDA, Pappageorge Haymes/Pierre-Yves Rochon, Chicago

An additional Honorable Mention was awarded to the entry by Valerio Dewalt Train of Chicago.


Back to the Future?

The description of the “Disruption” challenge contained many of the elements of recent, similar competition housing programs:


“Develop a flexible residential structure that can accommodate various lot sizes and densities, as well as entrepreneurship and aging in place. Architects must innovate for affordability, utilizing new construction materials and methods, and providing single-family homes that offer opportunities for live- work situations, growing families, accessibility, and a new focus on the “gig” economy.”


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A Paean to its Founders in Weimar

New Bauhaus Museum Commemorates an Anniversary


2012 COMPETITIONS Annual with Weimar Bauhaus Competition WInner Design  Image: ©Heike Hanada

As projected, the Weimar Bauhaus Museum, one of two new Bauhaus museums scheduled to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the founding of the Bauhaus in Germany, has opened its doors in Weimar. The new Bauhaus Museum in Dessau, also the product of a competition, is to open in September of this year.

Before my visit to the Weimar museum, opinions about the museum’s design had appeared in various German publications, i.e., Süddeutsche Zeitung, Berliner Tagesspiegel, etc.—one in particular not very flattering. So my arrival in Weimar was filled with much anticipation, especially since we had covered the original competition in some detail in the 2012 COMPETITIONS Annual (above).


Front view of museum from city parcel  Photo: ©Stanley Collyer


What was initially absent from the competition proposal by the project’s author and competition winner, Heike Hanada, was a water feature leading from the street toward the entrance. The basin was not intended simply as an incidental landscape feature, but an integral design feature, focusing the attention from the street toward the museum. Instead one finds paving, the victim of a decision by the client, Klassik Stiftung Weimar, to split the site and stage an additional competition for the new parcel—and not extending an invitation to a member of the winning Hanada team to compete. The resulting design by the winner of the second competiiton, Vogt Landscape Architect of Zürich, completely ignored the Hanada design, instead covering the parcel at the street almost completely with light stone paving and a curious depression. The result? Attention from the street was no longer diverted away from the neighboring Nazi era, Mussolini style neighbor while focusing on the main event, but totally disrupting the harmonious scheme as envisioned by the winning entry. In no way did it suggest an extension of the landscape from the building to the street as an integral design element.

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