IIT Architecture Students Partner with Local Developer, Alderman to Drive Englewood Development

Modern, affordable homes will be built on more than 20 empty lots near Englewood Connect development, with the first home being based on a student’s design


Student's rendering of a house that could be built in Chicago

CHICAGO—March 16, 2023—A groundbreaking collaboration between IIT College of Architecture students, local developer Kenny Smith of the Wholistic Community Development Association, and Alderman Stephanie Coleman (16th Ward) is set to revitalize Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood with the construction of affordable, innovative homes for middle-income families.

The project, initiated by Smith, an Englewood native, seeks to address the lack of quality housing options in the neighborhood by designing homes that cater to the needs of residents who want to stay in the area. The collaboration has grown to include Coleman and a group of fifth-year architecture students, led by Adjunct Professor Steven Pantazis.

Over 20 empty lots near the intersection of South Halsted and West 63rd streets will be transformed into stylish, affordable houses or classic Chicago two-flats. This development will take place alongside Englewood Connect, a $13.9 million project under the city’s INVEST South/West initiative that is anticipated to become a culinary and business hub.

Coleman believes that attracting families to the area will be a catalyst for further growth and economic development. “Once we develop a community where customers are, businesses will come. There is a tipping point we need to get to,” the alderman says.

The students have been given significant freedom in their designs, with only a few constraints such as Chicago’s standard lot size and square footage limits. Some developers shy away from using the most modern technology available, but Smith says he wants to see students flex their creative muscles.

The chosen design will be transformed into reality, a rare opportunity for architecture students to see their work brought to life.

The project is deceptively straightforward—design a home that the “missing middle” can afford, Pantazis says. “Speculative developers are building affordable housing for socio-economically challenged buyers, or they aim for high-end luxury. No one is targeting middle-income people. A lot are moving to the suburbs because housing isn’t available.”

Photo: A student rendering of what a home could look like in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood [provided by John Mulvey (ARCH 5th Year)]

Illinois Institute of Technology

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IIT College of Architecture

The College of Architecture at Illinois Institute of Technology builds on a legacy of disciplined experimentation in materials and technologies to educate and inspire the next generation of architects and landscape architects. From its landmark campus and home at S. R. Crown Hall, IIT Architecture champions an interdisciplinary approach to education and research that is simultaneously local and global in its impact. IIT Architecture students are educated to address complex, contemporary challenges of designing and constructing across all scales. Both faculty and students enjoy a longstanding relationship with professional practice in Chicago, a city with a vibrant history of innovation in architecture, design, landscape architecture, and urbanism. Visit arch.iit.edu.

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