The new American Dream: 100K(+ 20) | Starter Home

September 3, 2008, 4:56 pm
Filed under: Technology | Tags: , , ,

The Database of Light Interacting Technologies for Envelopes (D-LITE) is an online database presenting light and sun control products, prototypes, research projects and case studies in an interactive database format. The aim of D-LITE is to facilitate the exploration and selection of such systems for those in the design and research fields so as to engage them early on to think about daylight and solar radiation for a better integration of sustainability and energy concerns in the built environment.

Solar Decathlon
September 3, 2008, 4:17 pm
Filed under: precedents | Tags: ,

The Solar Decathlon joins 20 college and university teams in a competition to design, build, and operate the most attractive and energy-efficient solar-powered house.

2007 results:

First Place: Technische Universität Darmstadt

Second Place: University of Maryland

Third Place: Santa Clara University

This one, built by students from U of I in Urbana, Champaign, is currently open for visitors at the Center for Green Technology at 445 North Sacramento Boulevard in Chicago.

Hardie Board
September 3, 2008, 4:07 pm
Filed under: Material/Building Systems | Tags: ,

Hardie board panels are made of fiber cement and are available in a variety of sizes to fit a particular module. They are also easy and quick to install and durable.

This is what was used for siding on the 100k house in Philadelphia.

Technical information is available here

Protec concrete structural insulated panels
September 3, 2008, 3:04 pm
Filed under: Material/Building Systems | Tags: ,

The ProTEC Panel System is framing, sheathing, insulation, electrical wire chases and interior wall surface in one. The panels are ready to finish on both the interior and exterior sides. The embedded connector system prevents air infiltration, reduces heat loss, and provides for a nearly continuous insulation value. They could potentially provide greater comfort and more energy savings.

Available sizes: 8 ft, 9 ft, & 10 ft panel lengths cut to fit dimensional lumber

Sirewall (stabilized insulated rammed earth)
September 3, 2008, 2:44 pm
Filed under: Material/Building Systems | Tags: ,

rammed earth

Stabilized, Insulated, Rammed Earth (SIRE) walls are made using rebar and insulation enveloped with the mass of 14 – 20 inches of rammed earth.
The SIREWALL System starts with secured reusable forms that are filled with a mixture of damp earth. The soil blend, once compacted, creates stable walls that will last several lifetimes without the need for maintenance.

Thousands of years ago, builders in Asian, Middle Eastern and European civilizations were ramming earth into forms to create walls and buildings that have stood the test of time. Think the Great Wall of China, think castles and fortified homes, think temples and sacred spaces – carefully constructed and connected to their surroundings largely using Rammed Earth.

Firms using this product:

Terra Firma Builders

Just grapes wine bar

Eames House
September 3, 2008, 2:23 pm
Filed under: precedents | Tags:

eames house

Charles (1907-1978) and Ray (1912-1988) Eames had a profound influence on design in the latter half of the 20th century, both in the United States and throughout the world. Their motto for design was taking “the most of the best to the greatest number of people for the least.”

The Eameses’ influence on American style and taste is so profound as to be almost indiscernible. But every time we pick up a Pottery Barn catalog, snap together a shelf from Ikea, or spread out a rug from Pier 1, Charles and Ray Eames are not far away. In part, this is because of their design philosophy, which was founded on finding lasting solutions to fundamental needs, but also because they worked closely with large corporate and government entities to expose their design solutions to as many people as possible.

The Eames House, Case Study House #8, was one of 25 homes built as part of The Case Study House Program. The program came into being in the mid-1940s and continued through the early 1960s, largely through the efforts of John Entenza, publisher of Arts and Architecture magazine. The magazine announced that it would be the clients for a series of architect-design homes to be built and furnished using materials and techniques derived from the experiences of the second World War and best suited to express man’s life in the modern world. Each home built would be for a real or hypothetical client taking into considerations their particular housing needs.

Charles and Ray proposed that the home they designed would be for a married couple who were basically apartment dwellers working in design and graphic arts, and who wanted a home that would make no demands for itself, but would, instead serve as a background for as Charles would say, “life in work” with nature as a “shock absorber.”

The first plan of their home, known as the Bridge House, was designed by Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen in 1945. Because it used off-the-shelf parts ordered from catalogues, and the war had caused a shortage in materials delivery, the steel did not arrive until late 1948. By then, Charles and Ray had “fallen in love with the meadow,” in Ray’s words, and felt that the site required a different solution.

Charles and Ray then posed themselves a new problem: How to build a house with maximized volume with the same elements and not destroy the meadow. Using the same off-the-shelf parts, but ordering one extra steel beam, Charles and Ray re-configured the House. It is this design which was built and remains today.

Charles and Ray moved into the House on Christmas Eve, 1949, and lived here for the rest of their lives. The interior, its objects and its collections remain very much the way they were in Charles and Ray’s lifetimes. The house they created offered them a space where work, play, life, and nature co-existed.

The House has now become something of an iconographic structure visited by people from around the world. The charm and appeal of the House is perhaps best explained in the words of Case Study House founder, John Entenza, who felt that the Eames House “represented an attempt to state an idea rather than a fixed architectural pattern.” (

Parans Solar Lighting
September 3, 2008, 2:02 pm
Filed under: Technology | Tags: ,


Parans solar lighting works in three steps: first, sunlight is collected by Parans Solar Panels outdoors. The sunlight is then brought into the building through the Parans Optical Cables. Indoors, the sunlight flows out through Parans Luminaires. This technology is called Fiber Optic Solar Lighting.

Parans Solar Panel
The Parans Solar Panel can be mounted on roofs or facades and employs an array of optical lenses to collect and concentrate incoming sunlight. It is easily installed and integrable with buildings’ surfaces to allow for architectural integrity.

Parans Optical Cable
The Parans Optical Cable is made of several thin fiber optic strands. The cable is thin and flexible. Thanks to the high light transmission, sunlight can efficiently reach many locations far into buildings.

Parans Luminaires
In the chosen rooms, the sunlight is emitted through a Parans Luminaire, specifically designed to recreate the feeling of sunlight. A line of luminaires is available to match the outline, purpose and aesthetic of the specifi c room that is illuminated with the healthy sunlight

Smart Home: Green + Wired
September 3, 2008, 1:50 pm
Filed under: precedents | Tags: ,

Considered to the “greenest home in Chicago,” this 2500 square foot house is currently on exhibit for “Smart Home: Green + Wired” at the Museum of Science and Industry. It is a three-story modular and sustainable green home that has many smart features, green roofs and gardens. The home was designed by Michelle Kaufmann Designs and constructed by All American Homes.

Click for resource guide


Gentrification in Chicago
September 3, 2008, 1:43 pm
Filed under: Social / Cultural Issue | Tags: , , ,

Gentrification refers to trends in neighborhood development that tend to attract more affluent residents, and in many instances concentrated, upscale commercial investment.

Much of the city’s gentrification has clustered in the North Side neighborhoods of Lincoln Park and Lake View, areas that have retained a large stock of older housing, adjoin Lake Michigan and its parallel chain of municipal parks, and permit short commuting via mass transit to the downtown Loop. In the late 1950s the city of Chicago initiated a major urban renewal project in Lincoln Park, which resulted in considerable housing demolition in the southeastern portion of the neighborhood, especially along North Avenue. Within a few years, however, plans for further clearance met resistance from homeowners and renovators seeking to retain the area’s historic ambience. Old Town was Chicago’s first neighborhood to experience gentrification, as thousands of middle-class house-seekers bought and restored old single-family dwellings, two- and three-flat buildings, and coach houses.

Since the 1970s gentrification has spread to Wicker Park and Logan Square on the city’s near Northwest Side, to River North, the Near West Side, and the South Loop in central Chicago, and to the Gap in the Douglas Community Area on the South Side. Much of the residential upgrading in these areas has been initiated by large-scale developers. In Wicker Park, the Near West Side, and River North, the conversion of industrial buildings to residential and commercial uses has been commonplace. (From the encyclopedia of Chicago:

Bibliography on the history of gentrification in Chicago

The new public housing museum

Other articles:

Chicago’s Olympic Bid Stokes Gentrification Fears

Panel: Gentrification challenges public housing residents’ sense of community,12093

What went wrong with public housing in Chicago? A history of the Robert Taylor homes.

CHA Plan for transformation
September 3, 2008, 1:30 pm
Filed under: Social / Cultural Issue | Tags: , , ,

The Plan for Transformation Plan is a blueprint for the comprehensive renewal of public housing in Chicago. More than 25,000 units of housing will be redeveloped or rehabilitated under the Plan, which also ushered in a variety of programs that help lower-income residents blend into the social and economic fabric of the surrounding city. Adopted in February, 2000, the Plan seeks to institute dramatic changes to Chicago’s public housing over a ten-year period.

The creation of mixed-income communities through redevelopment or rehabilitation of existing CHA property is an important component to deconcentrating poverty as ascribed by the Plan. The CHA achieved great results toward fulfilling its promise to provide new public housing units in mixed-income communities during FY2006 by completing more than 62 percent of the units in the seventh year of the plan.

Mixed-Income Redevelopment

In replacing the high-rises, the CHA is rebuilding on the same land. They are creating new mixed-income communities with contemporary town homes and low-rise buildings, where public housing residents will live in the same neighborhood as people who purchase market rate and affordable homes. Generally, these developments will consist of one-third public housing, one-third affordable housing and one-third market rate homes.

Link to CHA’s website