frederick phillips and associates, architects, chicago

Architect Rick Phillips, recently married, got the rare chance to design this house just for himself during his bachelor days. When he purchased the tiny triangular lot in 1996, on the fringe of Cabrini Green, land prices were so low that he bought the adjacent lot, too. Phillips designed the Tower House for fun, knowing that someday he'd build a more serious house next door. "I wanted it to be an exercise in something small," says Phillips. "I pushed the envelope in reverse, in that respect."

Cues for layout and amenities came from a friend's Paris apartment. Hence the ovenless kitchen with its two-burner cooktop, undercounter refrigerator, and 18-inch-wide dishwasher. "I was fascinated that in Paris, this is considered a normal way to live," he says, "but in this country it's atypical."

The city skyline inspired a vertical structure and a reverse floor plan that put the outdoor space on the roof. Below that is the minimalist kitchen, dining, and living area, with the bedrooms underneath. The judges praised its urban edge. "It's cleverly worked out on a tight little site," they said. "It's appropriate for Chicago, the land of steel and Mies."

project architect: Frederick Phillips, FAIA, Frederick Phillips and Associates, Architects
general contractor: Ladner Construction, Chicago
landscape architect: Peter Lindsay Schaudt Landscape Architecture, Chicago
project size: 1,152 square feet
site size: 0.038 acre
construction cost: $260 per square foot
photographer: William Kildow