Friday, December 27, 2019

Rowhouse Chicago: 1970s

Row houses in the 1970s continued to be utilized as infill housing in established neighborhoods, often replacing older homes in areas undergoing redevelopment. But they also filled vacant lots in developing neighborhoods where single family homes were no longer viable due to the underlying cost of the land.

Some were strictly modernist in design, utilizing geometric arrangements of glass and masonry.  Others referred back to historic row house designs but simplified and reconfigured for contemporary needs.  Many utilized more advanced site planning, with groups of buildings arranged on single lot and accommodating shared and private spaces as well as car parking and storage.
424 W. Webster, 1970.  Booth & Nagle.

5523-5557 S. Harper, 1970. I.M. Pei and Harry Weese & Assoc.

3030-3036 W. Pratt, 1971.

1901-1909 W. Hood, 1973.

312-318 W. Willow, 1974. Harry Weese & Associates.

1320-1328 E. 48th, 1977. Harry Weese & Associates.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Rowhouse Chicago: 1960s

In the 1960s row houses made their way into many urban renewal projects, both government funded and privately developed.  A new generation of architects were evaluating established building types and coming up with new designs and approaches.

1400-1428 E. 54th, 1967. Harry Weese and Associates.
515 W. Belden, 1967. Anderson & Battles.
515-529 W. Dickens, 1964. Tigerman & Koglin.

6224-6230 N. Leavitt, 1968.

1210-1216 E. 48th, 1969.  Keck & Keck.

Rowhouse Chicago: 1950s

In the 1950s row houses came roaring back in Chicago.  The cost of land and the demand for moderate density housing again aligned.  New materials and construction technologies, many developed during the war, were now available for private development.  The simplified architectural designs dictated by strict federal requirements and wartime shortages still informed the design of this new generation of row houses, even as those designs were enlivened with new colors and textures.

6151-6159 N. Fairfield, 1957.
2901-2909 W. Granville, 1958.
3001-3007 W. Granville, 1956.
7202-7214 N. Hamilton, 1959.
3016-3024 W. Rosemont, 1957.

Rowhouse Chicago: 1930s and 1940s

In the 1930s and 40s the row house became an important form for government subsidized public housing.  This program was interrupted by WWII and resumed afterwards at a much larger scale. 

Some early examples utilized a simplified Classicism, or a Moderne design aesthetic.  But as the program continued ornamental details were stripped away.

I want to write more about these, but for now I'll settle for getting them on-screen.  If you're familiar with the topic you'll notice that the Lathrop Homes (recently redeveloped) are missing. Those will be included once I get some good reference photos.

Trumbull Homes (2454 E. 106th), 1938.
Frances Cabrini Green Rowhouses (902 N. Hudson), 1942.
Bridgeport Homes (31st and Lituanica), 1943.

Altgeld Gardens (13357 S. Langley), 1945.

Rowhouse Chicago: 1900s through 1920s

After the 1890s it became much harder for me to find row houses.  Since this isn't exactly a scientific study it's possible I'm just missing them, but it seems to be more than that...

My guess is that that urban land became expensive enough to usher in the era of larger apartments.  Also, more affluent buyers were drawn to the expanding first tier suburbs, which had increasingly strong public transit connections and were far from the pollution and political unrest of Chicago.

Anyway, I'm hoping to add more examples from these decades as I find them.

201-217 N. LeClaire, 1900.
I had to restore one demolished unit based on photographs (second from the right).  And I know an emergency demolition permit was issued to demolish another unit, so it really doesn't look this way any more.  This row basically creates an instant village, so it's disappointing to see it deteriorating.

5344-5350 S. Wabash, 1914.
Here's a strong example a classical revival design unified by the decorative parapet.  I had to restore some altered porches and balconies and cornice sections.  I'm impressed by the use of bays to bring in more light, but I don't know if the porches were quite big enough to provide much benefit. 

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Rowhouse Chicago: 1890s

Hands down the 1890s were the decade of the most elaborate row houses, with the most astounding combination of styles.

2451-2451 W. Jackson, 1890s.

3910-3918 S. Prairie, 1893.

229-241 N. Sacramento, 1895.

2814-2826 W. Warren, 1896.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Rowhouse Chicago: 1880s

Perhaps the golden age of the Chicago row house?                                                                                                           
3920-3924 S. Prairie, 1889
2829-2837 W. Warren, 1880s.
2320-2326 W. Warren, 1884.
2148-2158 W. Bowler, 1882.
615-623 E. 42nd, 1880s.
615-623 E. 42nd, 1880s.
4341-4349 S. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr., 1889.

Rowhouse Chicago: 1870s

Some of the oldest row houses in Chicago, built soon after the Chicago Fire of 1871.  These have been drawn to represent their original appearance, as closely as I could determine. In the real world all have lost some structural or ornamental features. 

2300-2310 W. Monroe, 1871
1254-1262 W. Lexington, c.1875.

3712-3722 W. Cermak, c. 1875.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Rowhouse Chicago - Circling the Wagons

In the 1960s and 70s many rowhouse designs in Chicago began to incorporate solid walls and barriers in front of the home.  Traditionally rowhouses had addressed the street with small setbacks and a generous stoop, allowing residents the opportunity to participate in neighborhood street life.

515-529 W. Dickens, 1964.  Tigerman and Koglin.

But now many turned away from the street, setting the structure further back on the lot and privatizing the front yard. The designs themselves also become more defensive--  in some cases almost bunker-like, as if they were intended to occupy the neighborhood by force.   These designs were most common in areas undergoing urban renewal, and convey some of the racial and economic anxiety that must have been felt at the time.  My examples here are from the Mid-North and Old Town neighborhoods, where they often replaced older building types.
515 W. Belden, 1967.  Anderson and Battles.
At the same time this was a very creative time for rowhouse design, with an emphasis on geometry and massing that utilized traditional as well as new ornamental materials. There was also some notable strides in site planning, often using several lots to create rowhouse arrangements with shared common spaces. 

1415-1425 N. Sandburg Terrace, 1972.  Component of Sandburg Village.
In the case of Sandburg Village the rowhouse components were part of a larger plan incorporating a variety of building types and sizes.  Rowhouses were one way to connect the new development with existing buildings at the periphery utilizing a similar scale.

1515 W. Belden, 1970.  Booth and Nagle.
This generation of rowhouses also addressed the needs of cars, often through clustered parking or even below-grade parking structures.  In some cases the occupant could step from their car right into their townhouse, without having to experience any of the intervening space.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Rowhouse Chicago - Facade Rhythm

This blog entry looks at some typical façade organizations of the Chicago rowhouse and theorizes a bit about the intent of various approaches.  But mostly it's a visual essay.

3710-3722 W. Cermak, 1870s.
This Second Empire style rowhouse basically reads as a single structure. Sure the entrances allow you to visually separate the individual units, but the unifying treatment of the third floor ties it all together.  The constituent parts step forward and backward slightly to create an interlocking but symmetrical mass, with a varied roofline.  The ornamentation is limited to the carved stone lintels, pressed metal cornice and roof coping. I've never seen another building like this in Chicago, and it basically kicked off my interest in rowhouses.
2300-2310 W. Monroe, 1871.
These Joliet limestone rowhouses (Neo-Grec/Italianate Style) are comprised of six identical units.   Combined they create an undulating façade which can fill a few lots or an entire block, depending on the budget and available land.  The homes have individual as well as collective character.  But mostly collective. This is the type of rowhouse that most clearly says "Chicago" to me.  They once filled entire blocks on the near south and west sides, but only pockets remain.
1106-1114 E. 62nd, 1888.
This Classical Revival limestone rowhouse utilizes two alternating designs.  The "B" design is more elaborate, with a 5-sided bay, elaborate parapet, and stained-glass oval windows.  Even rowhouses in the same building with identical square footage allow for a bit of individuality and variety.  The A-B-A-B pattern seems to be the most common choice for historic Chicago rowhouses.
2814-2826 W. Warren Boulevard, 1896
This unusual design combines two façade treatments in a A-B-B-A pattern.  Combining modules in different ways allows rowhouses to approach a variety of architectural styles.  In this case a combination of Queen Ann and Classical detailing.

2415-2457 W. Jackson, 1890.
And finally, some buildings are so complex that no two units are designed in the same manner, even when the interior plans are nearly identical.  This is a combination of Classical and Romanesque styles.  A fifth row house was demolished here prior to the 1970s, and I have no clue what it might have looked like.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Rowhouse Chicago - Introduction

229-241 N. Sacramento, 1895
Recently I've been looking at the rowhouse in Chicago.  This is a building type that appears again and again, from elaborate versions of the 1890s to low income housing of the 1940s. Because there are thousands of these in Chicago I developed some selection criteria to maintain my sanity. These are a bit arbitrary, but I had to start somewhere:

-Constructed between 1870 and 1970
-A minimum of 3 units
-Shared common walls
-Separate entrances
-At least two stories
-Linear arrangement
-Not a designated Chicago Landmark

2454 E. 106th, 1938
These are presented with minimal elaboration.  In many cases windows, porches and rooflines have been restored with ink based on whatever evidence or expertise I could muster.  There are bound to be some mistakes.

To preserve an accurate sense of proportion I've drawn the buildings in elevation.  The line drawings are then scanned and tone added digitally.  I tried to avoid perspective, although I've had to break that rule on occasion...

2901-2909 W. Granville, 1958
I won't be going into too much detail about source material, but when I use ideas that aren't my own I'll provide a reference.

For previous series I would write and draw as I went.  In this case I need to make sense of a few dozen images chosen mostly by my subconscious.  New entries will be added irregularly.  If it turns out OK I'll look into putting it on paper.

If you have comments or suggestions feel free to post below or email (larryshure at gmail dot com).  I know I don't need to say this, but all images are protected and cannot be reposted without permission.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

View of the back of Mision Cristiana Elim

I'm continuing my series looking into some of the areas of the neighborhood that were never really meant to be on display.  You can't do much better than the church at Morse and Ashland.

This was originally the reform synagogue Temple Mizpah, and I've written about it a bit here.  There's a substantial parking lot on the east, which was intended to be the main sanctuary but was never built.  The result is that the building (and the block) remains forever unfinished.

But the unfinished nature of the property allows for a glimpse into the service areas.  All of the loading and unloading spaces, and all of the mechanical accommodations are on full display.  In some ways it's as complex a design as the architectural expression found on the primary facade.  And over the years it's been modified and altered to better meet the needs of the building.  How many more masonry boxes will be built before it finds equilibrium?

Friday, May 11, 2018

View from Goldberg Park

Looking up from Goldberg Pocket Park.
I'm interested in parts of buildings that were never meant to be seen.  These are the spaces that most honestly respond to the needs of the structure and the limitations of the materials.  Somehow they’re the most honest expressions of Chicago's character. If you walk down any alley you'll see these how these secondary areas and irregular spaces are organized.

I also look for them when I notice a disruption in the grid, whether by a demolition or some quirk of development.  Pocket parks create great windows into these spaces.  The one at Goldberg Park is one of my favorites.  The height of the buildings and the adjacent embankment for the El create a sense of enclosure and provide a leisurely way to enjoy the surroundings.

I see views like this replicated throughout the city.   It's really a streetscape in its own right, following a set of rules just as compelling as those of the finished facades.