Summertime Porches 
It's summer again and time to think about your porch. This is impression I get from the preponderance of inquiries for porch additions and rebuilds. That and there’s nary a quiet block around. The echoing sound of nail guns that can mean only one thing, It’s Summertime! I did this sketch recently for a house in Chicago. The side setback requirements and allowances that are strangely stringent considering the narrowness of Chicago lots, heavily influenced my design. Lemons to lemonade this design would bring the lightness of flight to this top heavy vinyl box.


Another proposal for a four season enclosed porch had the same top heaviness that needed addressed. I took the focus away from the giant seemingly teetering gable down to the more comfortable human scale of the porch.

This porch is an addition where there was no porch. The focus is again brought down and the width generous. Together they are the makings for a pleasing place usable for multiple functions and numbers of users. And this house is much more inviting and cheerful don’t ya think?


Another finished project this is this replacement porch and roof brought up to the latest Chicago codes without appearing too utilitarian. This porch is awaiting paint.

I loosened up a little for this proposal as it is for a roof deck addition to an existing very modern house. Here the deck becomes an oasis in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood with vine covered vertical wood elements and flowing benches that nestle the space. Berry producing vines would bring it all together.



As a designer I am well accustomed to envisioning a project in various seasons so anything I design will work well all year round. However I do experience the feeling of renewal that spring brings. This renewal that in nature is realized in summer, I don’t think, need exclude the natural sound of the carpenters hammer. Human sounds are sometimes as natural as in this case the sound of the woodpeckers in search of food. Both mean summertime is here and there’s nothin’ like taking a little rest in the shade of a beautiful porch.

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Proposed Design at Lake and Forest in Oak Park, IL 

The following is the "comment" I submitted to the news paper article about the proposed (pictured above) building on Lake Street (the main street) in Oak Park Illinois:

r u kidding me?!?!?!?!?!?

It's hard to overstate what a dumb proposal this is. Of the ridiculous oppressive 80’s style glass box proposal the Architect says, "we think is fresh” and will "stand the test of time" and is not "overly ornate." This banal glass skyscraper will suck Oak Park back in time to Rosemont in the 1980’s. Architecturally Oak Park is on the map due primarily to the Prairie Style Architects of the early 20th century. The Prairie Style is rooted in its relationship to the inhabitants as well as the site...its human scale and overall proportions to itself and its surroundings. The ornament is integral to the system of its design. Perhaps if more time was spent trying to understand these qualities instead of embellishing upon the eccentricities of the Architects personal lives one would be able see how negative this proposal will be for Oak Park.
It’s easy to get distracted by the computer graphics and how the proposed building looks like a shinny new toy or “cool” like the international space station. I implore folks to spend some time thinking about this proposal because whether it stands the test of time or not, it will be here for a long time. Go walk around Rosemont and see if that’s how you want to feel in downtown Oak Park.
The needs of the area can be met with a more carefully designed building contextually appropriate to Oak Park. Oak Park is a Village. This has many meanings, one of which is the quality of space that is experienced. Whether one is aware of it or not, space affects the way you feel and the positive design of space should be integral to any new building in Oak Park.
The bigger mystery may be why -- in a catastrophically contracting economy, compounded by a latent energy crisis -- anyone thinks Oak Park needs a 19 story behemoth hotel. Or why, in a disintegrating consumer context, there would be any need for more retail. Or why, in an apocalyptic residential real estate situation, anyone would want to bring 70 condos on line.
If it’s going to look and feel horrible at least require it be a “net zero energy building”...better still a “net positive energy building”! If it's going to look like the space station it should function like it.
Earth-to-Oak Park: the banal suburban glass skyscraper is obsolete not to mention entirely inappropriate for this Village.

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