Project Description2003 CHDA
Custom Home Under 3,000 Sq. Ft. / Merit Award
The purest architectural ideas rarely make it off the page without getting pushed here and pulled there by the sloppy forces of reality. Only in designing their own homes do most architects stand a chance of holding the line against compromise. In his squeaky-clean mini-tower home, Chicago architect Frederick Phillips appears to have seized the gold ring of having a really cool idea and seeing it through to completion intact.
Sited on a miniscule triangular lot in Chicago's notorious Cabrini Green neighborhood, this urban pioneer packs 1,152 square feet of high-style living space onto less than 1,700 square feet of land. Its forms are bracingly simple: four stories of steel-framed structure, a concrete block stair tower for circulation, and a steel circular stair for secondary egress. Enclosed living spaces occupy the two middle levels of the main structure, which shelters a ground-level parking pad; the top level is devoted to a shaded roof deck. Materials are drawn from a utilitarian mix of steel and block, with slate floors and black granite countertops providing a sophisticated counterpoint.
Our judges praised the house's efficient floor plan, crisply detailed modernist interiors, and high-rise-like urban views. But nothing about this house impressed them as much as the fact that it actually got built.