Chicago holds contest to design affordable, sustainable housing – Crain’s Chicago Business

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The architecture group and Chicago departments—planning and development, along with housing—are partnering on Come Home. It’s essentially a residential complement to Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Invest South/West program, whose mission is to revitalize disinvested commercial corridors in the city.

“New two- and three-flats and other walk-up buildings will create the rooftops that support nearby commercial corridors, especially where Invest South/West is underway,” Maurice Cox, commissioner of planning and development for the city, said in emailed comments.

Some of the projects that Come Home generates could be built on sites in Auburn Gresham, Englewood, Woodlawn and other Invest South/West target areas, the competition’s website says.

In 2019, a different contest sought to find the bungalow of the 21st century. A difference with this latest contest, Gorski said, is “that we’re looking at critical mass, building ten or twenty all together instead of scattered throughout Woodlawn.” 
 
In its first phase, the Come Home program is calling for qualified architects to register for the contest by January 9. Later they’ll submit designs, and after another phase of evaluating developers, the program will pair architects with developers, and sometime after that specific designs will result.

Gorski said no target has been set yet for how much it should cost to build the designs, although that will be a key attribute of getting them built. Those figures should be available in the first few months of 2023, she said.

“The goal is to reduce sales prices for working-class buyers by reducing the costs of construction through innovative home designs” and other strategies, Cox said. Among them are “clustered development sites to enhance economies of scale, land write-downs, and other city incentives like City Lots for Working Families” and application of the city’s affordable housing requirements ordinance.

The emphasis is on multi-unit buildings, in part because ownership of a two- or three-flat is a long-established route to building household wealth in Chicago.

Like the city’s November announcement of an expedited way to sell off thousands of vacant lots it owns, this competition is part of an all-out effort to “grow these communities inclusively,” Cox said.

The resulting designs should not only “be more affordable for buyers,” Cox said, “but also for emerging local developers to build. The program will help strengthen the capacity of minority developers already working in the South and West Side communities they love.”

An important component of the design competition, Gorski said, will be collecting ideas from the communities where homes would be built. “What are they looking for and what do they think it would take to get people to come back to these neighborhoods,” Gorski said.

Reed Kroloff, dean of the college of architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology, is a member of the jury that will select architects. He said community voices will help “tell us how do they want houses built to respond to the concerns that people have in their communities today.”

As an example, he speculated the architects might learn that residents in neighborhoods plagued by violence might “want to bring back front porches, so you have more eyes on the street.”

Beyond building new homes on the Invest South/West sites, the contest should result in a sort of “pattern book,” both Kroloff and Cox said. It would contain a set of designs from which someone who wants to build new housing on a city lot could select the ones best suited to their needs. Ideally it would include costs and materials lists.

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December 20, 2022 at 10:24PM

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