zoka zola architecture + urban design   1737 west ohio street   chicago IL 60622    t 312 491 9431    f 312 491 9432    info@zokazola.com

Mixed use building
1845-7 W Grand Ave.

Client and Site
The client is a landscaper whose desire is to live next to a garden with a view of the city. The property is a 48 feet x 95 feet lot on Grand Avenue, an industrial area 1.5 miles northwest from Chicago's Loop.

Zoning Constraints
This area is zoned to F.A.R. - 3, allowing the maximum building area to be three times its lot area. Zoning Ordinance also regulates the height of the building to 55 feet allowing the building to have five stories. The building needs to be this maximum allowable height in order to preserve city views from its roof garden. Zoning ordinance for this site permits zero feet set backs. The garden needs to be as big as possible; therefore, we nee to utilize the zero feet set backs allowed for this site. A five story building with zero feet set backs would result in more than maximum allowable built area; therefore, the building has portions extracted from its middle.


together main
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model together gran ave

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work models   Program
The zoning ordinance requires commercial spaces to be at the ground level, while the rest of the building can be other uses. Condominiums are currently the most feasible use in Chicago. The building will have two commercial units at the front of the ground floor, five parking spots at the back of the ground floor, two condominiums on the second floor, two condominium units on the third floor, and the clients condominiums with garden on fourth and fifth floor.
Construction System
Structure and exterior walls will be precast concrete. Red granulate will be added to the white concrete to achieve a flesh like color. Precast concrete panels will be laid horizontally in order to support its cantilevered corners making use of concrete's easily achieved strength. End panels will interlock with the cantilevered panels, like lincoln logs, and will be fastened to them with steel pins.
The roof garden will be used for energy conservation. It will reduce storm water flooding and will clean the air.

Sq. Ft.
Total enclosed area is 12,500 Sq. Ft., garden area is 3000 Sq. Ft.
design process
model stairs  
model 7

model 8
model 9
model11   model 10
front together   render together spaces   render 2 together kitchen   render 3 together images
Site and its Future
The current site is a powerful place in Chicago. Buildings have poignancy as their large volumes are occupied with far fewer people than in their past. Many of them have their windows bricked with only a small metal door to the narrow walkway of Grand Avenue. They are all built to the edge of the street without any set backs, forming a wall

of different heights and textures enclosing vacant or underused volumes. The air inside these buildings is pushing these walls out, like the air inside balloons. Fast traffic of cars, trucks and busses run between narrow sidewalks in front of these buildings stirring up the dusty air.

What is going to remain of this part of Chicago after its building stock gets replaced? It is likely that the new buildings will be poorely conceived buildings and will have front and side yards. The only thing that is likely to remain is air - dry and dense at the same time.

Our aim is to build a building that is porous ,
like a sponge holding the outside air
between its walls.

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Click for Detail ferdinand street view towards west
grand avenue view towards east
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ground floor/first floor
2 commercial units, parking for condominiums, open-air corridor
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second floor
2 condominiums, ivy garden, open-air corridor
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third floor
2 condominiums, open-air corridor, secondary access and fire exit for client's residence
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samples of construction drawings:

title sheet - 000
1st + 2nd floor plans - 100
top floor plan + roof plan - 102
long sections - 205
long sections - 206
long sections - 207
short sections - 208
exterior details - 300
exterior details - 301
exterior details - 302
interior elevations - 401
door schedule + details - 600
room finish schedule - 602
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fourth floor
study room in client's condominium, mezzanine room at third floor condominium
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fifth floor
clients condominium, client's garden

Architectural and Painterly References of Commonality and Togetherness
In the spaces portrayed here, two people might have a sense of sudden awareness of a special comradeship with, and humanity of, the other person.

Victor Horta's Carpenter House
In this veranda on the corner we can imagine a magnetic force pulling one person towards another.
This magnetic force around the veranda has its vortex at this corner. The power of this vortex feels so strong that one can easily imagine two strangers embrace.
  Paul Cezanne's Six Women
Women in this painting look lost in their togetherness. We are not interested in this high degree of togetherness in our project.
  Eileen Gray's E.1027
Imagine two people in the space of the terrace: there is a sense that they will accept each other without any judgment.
It feels like one could accept a criminal as a fellow human in this space.
  Victor Horta's Max Hallet House
Imagine a person at the balcony of this building and yourself at the street. Do you feel that you are somehow connected and together with this person? This is the degree of togetherness that we are seeking in our building on Grand Avenue.
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  American Community and Commonality
How are condominium spaces to relate to each other and to the commercial spaces?
This building explores the concept of community, commonality, the problem of forced intimacy, and problems of assumed common ground. This project is an attempt to redefine the idea of the urban residential building by looking afresh at the American dream of community. A feeling of togetherness can be sought through an effort to uniform and harmonize the lifestyles and aspirations of different inhabitants, or it can be sought through constructing a building that makes people
feel glad to be close to other people regardless of their character, aspirations, or lifestyle. The later is our central search in this project. In our search we are not interested to impose anything on anyone in order to increase commonality but instead to realize an already given commonality. We are not interested in inducing a feeling of equality with others but instead to induce a thrill or a gladness of being together with others.

An undeniable humanity of another person is what we have in common.
We are interested in togetherness achieved by shared space rather than an activity. We aim to provoke a feeling of togetherness without expectations and togetherness without contact, or only with some kind of abstract contact, or not (yet) defined contact. This project aims to remove imposed intimacy from the concept of community. This photo of Horta's Max Hallet House shows us the difference between imposed and induced intimacy by the space.


©Zoka Zola 2003

Design: Zoka Zola, Tanja Reiche, Jeff Parfitt, Anna Puijaner, WilliamEmick, Saumya Ganguli - Models: Trevor Lord