Chicago’s once beautiful Near West Side has been a challenging neighborhood since 1968 when much of the area was destroyed during the King riots. As with other such areas, there continues to be a critical need for safe family housing that offers choice and a sense of place and community identity so children and families will have the opportunity to grow and flourish. City Gardens is a full block, 76 unit mixed-income redevelopment designed with strong community collaboration to address those needs.
The design of the buildings has two considerations. The 3 exterior street fronts, suggest a strong shoulder to shoulder line up of buildings circling the interior court. The buildings are not soldiers lined up to keep everyone out, however the buildings do give containment to the interior of the block and make it a safe haven for the families who live there. This central core anchors the development and offers natural landscaping and shared space with environmentally-focused amenities such as community gardens, grill stations, a recycling center, shared play space, and a full teaching kitchen with ample gathering and cooking space inside the community building. The slow moving interior car traffic allows the entire courtyard to be a shared pedestrian space. The hope is the residents will take ownership of the “gardens” and use it as their own backyard where they grow, cook and eat healthy food. City Gardens is close to transportation, schools, and has a beautiful new city park directly to the north.
Our approach to sustainable design is to provide “best practices” which include green initiatives, sustainable development programs, and alternative material development. City Gardens uses sustainable landscape design practices such as native/adaptive plantings and an absence of any lawn grass, the use of bioswales between buildings and parking to remove pollution from runoff water, permeable pavers, a recycling center, and green roofs. With thermally-advanced building shells and Energy Star certified buildings, the project exceeds the City of Chicago’s Green Housing Initiative requirement. Sustainability in affordable housing means energy and environmental sustainability to a degree, but more often it means efficient and proper use and detailing of materials in order to allow for both social and building sustainability. Affordability and sustainability work together to bring competitive first costs as well as affordable operation and maintenance costs to a development. We generally support strict an energy codes, because they cannot be value engineered out, and we try and keep the buildings and systems as simple as possible so both the residents and maintenance crews will have as little opportunity as possible to negatively impact the overall life of the building and its components. We are as diligent as possible during construction to be sure all details are followed properly and we do all we can to encourage the building owners to include residents in providing consistent and regular maintenance.
City Gardens was designed to meet Enterprise Green Communities however due to funding shifts we did not have the budget for certification. The buildings were modeled during the design development phase and though the regional target EUI goal was 20, the predicted EUI was 40-47 against a baseline EUI of 50. The buildings are well built, but of course we wish we could do better with the EUI. The buildings are built with regionally produced masonry and stone, fiber cement made out of recycled content and stained cedar siding that withstands decay, the elements and pests and is installed on a rainscreen system. We achieved Energy Star v3.1 Certification and we met 2012 IECC overall thermal performance requirements and verifications.
Though the neighborhood is challenging the site amenities are significant. There are N/S and E/W bus stops within a few blocks and a CTA blue line stop within ¼ mile of the site. There are seven public schools within ½ mile, VA and other medical centers within easy access, seven parks within ½ mile with a brand new large park directly north of the site, and a brand new Pete’s Fresh Market just beyond ¼ mile. Parking is provided at .7 cars per unit, there are .5 bike racks per unit and the walk score rating is 74, Very Walkable.
The entire site is heavily landscaped and all but the perimeter sidewalks are permeable pavers. The drives collect the water with perforated piping that allows it to filter thru the soil and reduces the amount of stormwater runoff. Disconnected downspouts, extended landscaping including shade trees, rain gardens, community garden and green roofs on the community center. City Gardens uses sustainable landscape design practices such as native/adaptive plantings and an absence of any lawn grass, bioswales, green roofs and permeable paving to remove pollution from runoff water and for rainwater management.
No VOC interior paints
Energy star advanced lighting packages
Advanced lighting and automatic control system
Regionally produced materials where feasible
Recycled content materials where feasible
75% recycled content insulation
Recycled content carpet
Natural or recycled carpet pad
Energy star ceiling fans