Greenleaf Residence

Type: Adaptive Reuse
Program: Single-Family Residence
Location: Evanston, Illinois
Status: Unrealized, Design Completed 2016
Brief: Conversion of an existing commercial building into a single-family residence

Located within an eclectic arts district of a suburban Chicago neighborhood, this neglected structure was acquired by our client as an opportunity to breathe new life and meaning to an existing shell for him and his college age kids.

The building extends to the lot lines on three sides and amidst the rezoning process, the municipality mandated these three visible facades were to be kept. As such, we used this directive as an opportunity to resolve the two key elements the existing configuration lacked -privacy and daylight. Thus, we looked to the existing roof as a solution to create an interior courtyard. In cutting away the existing roof along the southern and eastern exterior walls, a newly formed semi-private space becomes a living threshold between the street’s hard edge and a new glass enclosure. Now, the sun’s rays are able to penetrate deep into the footprint of the home, revealing the poetic qualities of these masonry walls, which also serve as a new elevation seen from within.

The overall plan is anchored by the introduction of three multi-purpose, wood clad volumes, defining the sleeping areas along one side and the flexible family functions on the other. The placement of the garage in close proximity of the primary structure, together with its direct link to an integrated workspace defines another type of courtyard, opening up to the most intimate room of the home, the master suite. This auxiliary structure adds to the reinforcement of the interior and exterior organization while providing privacy from adjacent lots.

Overall, this project exemplifies the opportunities existing structures offer, in opposition to most buildings, which are razed in disregard.