Chicago, IL


BUCKTOWN BLACK BOX - 3-flat Deconversion with Addition

34-TEN was approached by a family that purchased an 1890s-era 3-flat building on one of Bucktown’s infamous short lots (measuring just 24’ wide by 100’ long) to design a home for their growing family. The challenge for the design team was to deconvert the existing 3-flat into a single-family dwelling in a manner conducive to the family’s compact style of living. Also, the smaller lot size deviates from the standard 25’ x 125’ Chicago lot, which makes improving the property more difficult. 

However, the small lot led to big ideas. A complete gut renovation of the interior opened the floor plan, resulting in an open kitchen, living, and dining room. A new 8’ deep by 18’ wide addition created an overhang at the second floor which provides shade from the harsh western exposure.Deteriorating masonry at the front elevation, which had been installed during the 1990s renovation, was removed to make way for new black masonry and decorative banding. The existing 6’ high first-floor porch that had made for an intimidating entry sequence was revised by implementing an L-shaped stair and landing which now gracefully leads to the front door.

These moves enabled the design team to achieve the owners’ program requirements by modernizing the existing building and adding a modest rear addition at the basement and second floors.The Bucktown Black Box now respects the existing streetscape while providing a contrasting experience at the rear yard with a punchy cantilevered black box.

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Status: Built
Location: Chicago, IL, US
Firm Role: Design architect
Additional Credits: Photography credit: James John Jetel