A proposal for the Congress of New Urbanism‘s Missing Middle competition, Finalist.

In collaboration with Nicholas Rolinski of Broad Street Studio Inc, I designed mixed-use housing on Chicago’s Montrose Avenue which respects the optimal density of its neighborhood context. The rental unit mix was designed for market value, affordability, and suitability to local demographics.  Underground parking, a terraced courtyard lined with shops, and a large rooftop amenity space bring additional value to the historic Courtyard Apartment model, allowing it to be developed at a profit.

How can we provide generous living space, while maximizing our use of urban land?  This has been solved before.  The Chicago Courtyard building was devised a century ago, to provide a domestic scale of living in a densely built site.  Private stairs accessed from a generous court gives each apartment access to light, cross-ventilation, and green space.  This model is adaptable and relevant to today’s market.

We propose fresh modifications to the historically successful Chicago Courtyard building.  The building is divided into two zones: a dense, traditional apartment block facing Montrose, and family units flanking the courtyard and accessed by private stairs.  Commercial tenants are allocated appropriately to each zone.  Residential units are raised on this plinth of shops, and set back from the public realm with their own private terraces.

Rather than opening a void to the street, we present a continuous façade to Montrose, with a loggia leading people within.  This refers to the Palazzo type, in which passerby glimpse the building’s lush inner court through a portico.  The court now opens to southern sunlight.

The traditional courtyard apartment is well suited to quiet residential streets.  The pedestrian energy and business opportunities of Montrose Avenue call for a new approach.  With its leafy, inviting public allée and generous roof terrace overlooking the Chicago River and skyline, our design is poised to realize the value of its dynamic location.