First is an example of an old house that has been preserved, giving an idea of the area's character. These two blocks do not sit within a landmarked district (the Old Town Triangle District is a few blocks east of here), but these two buildings on Howe Street combined into one residence (or that's my guess) are fairly typical of historic Old Town.
A few doors down from the old house in the previous photo is this residence that tries to look old. Note the small brick house on the right side of the photograph — that is the typical width of a lot on this stretch of Howe Street. Therefore this neoclassical house takes up at least three lots. Note also how the house "turns the corner," shifting from all stone on the front to selectively used stone on the side to save money. This is fairly typical in Chicago, regardless of a building's style, but it also points to a difference between the new buildings in the area and the old ones, on which the same brick wrapped all sides of the house.
This house, farther north on Howe Street, is a creative reuse of an old building. The architects preserved the front and inserted a modern brick and glass box behind it. Note the view of the latter through the third-floor opening on the front elevation; in effect, the preserved section is a shell, a hollow outdoor room that acts as a transition between the street and the interior beyond.
Trekking over to Orchard Street, we get a glimpse of the house that Wheeler Kearns Architects designed for the Pritzker-Traubert family (yes, those Pritzkers). Like the neoclassical house shown earlier, this house takes up two or three lots. It's no wonder this stretch of Orchard Street was called Gazillionaire's Row by a local paper.
The brashly modern design lifts the concrete-clad second floor above a glassy first floor. On the south side of the building is a yard about the width of a single lot.
Privacy is maintained by a bronze fence whose vertical members are angled to afford the occasional view of the courtyard or the entry, but never into the house.
This close-up of the entrance reveals the texture of the concrete panels, which also have an earthy color that helps to tone down the impact of the modern residence on the street.
Across the street and a few doors south of the Pritzker house is another modern house, but one with outdoor space placed above a first-floor podium.
The house has a unique position, because it is bordered on the south by a parking lot serving an adjacent building. This opens up the south side of the house to the sun but also to passersby. In response the elevation is primarily metal panel, and a concrete wall separates the ground floor from the parking.
Right across the street from the previous house is a traditional design that I actually recognized from browsing photos on Houzz. The distinctive vertical green wall facing south may be in its winter dormancy, but it still grabs one's attention. Compare this house with the Pritzker house; they may be miles apart stylistically, but they are almost the same in how their lots were combined and how outdoor space lies on the south.
Back one block to the east on Howe Street is this modest house. It is notable for showing how even the simplest utilitarian design can be elevated through the careful addition and articulation of elements. The concrete-block box would be a forgettable (and potentially dismal) design without the screens and trellises that shield the house from the summer sun and passersby.
Based on the articulation of solid and void on the exterior, I can only guess at the complexity of spaces inside.
Next door to the previous concrete complexity is another concrete house, one much simpler and more straightforward. A box faced with glass blocks reaches toward the street, beside a narrow path and steps to the front door.
The glass block ensures privacy, though a horizontal band of windows set into it gives a view from the inside to the outside. I can see it being a great place for an office, or if positioned lower, it would work well for looking outside from a bed.
Across the street from the two concrete houses, and just a few doors down from the neoclassical residence near the beginning of this ideabook, is this modern brick house. Its simplicity and rigor give the impression that it could be offices as easily as a house, but there is still something appealing about its presence on the street. It is calm and austere, and its 20th-century modernism is becoming more historical next to its newer neighbors with each passing year.
At the south corner of this long block of Howe Street is a house of brick, glass and metal that is like a contemporary version of a Frank Lloyd Wright house. The architect used the skinny brick that Wright favored, and the articulation of perimeter walls in front of the house also recalls some of Wright's work.
Yet the house has its unique qualities, such as this gallery glazed on both sides. This space gives a glimpse into the internal courtyard, while giving the house's elevation a strong rhythm and a well-scaled presence on the street.