2448-2444 W. Chicago Avenue began with the question of whether it is possible to preserve what is not historic and not preserve what is historic? The question is intentionally provocative, i.e. how can an existing architectural structure with a history not be historic?
Preservation and design became a process of editing from a collection of materials occupying three periods of time and place. The limestone elements of the original structure were determined to be a significant material worth preserving. The glazed brick was removed and replaced with Chicago "common brick" recovered from recently demolished Chicago buildings where the common brick material was determined to be worth preserving. The painted steel and ipe wood elements were new materials. The painted steel was a nod and a wink in the direction of Chicago's previous mayor who saw the black painted metal fence as so quintessentially Chicago historic that he went so far as to require painted steel fences on projects throughout the city during his time as mayor. The ipe wood was introduced as a new material allowed to age naturally so as to have its own visual material history. The eventual greying of the ipe wood was treated as analogous to the recovered brick and limestone, their chips and cracks, a visual history that is both of this place, i.e. 2444-2448 W. Chicago and of the place, i.e. Chicago.
The glass curtain wall/entry was pushed back six feet to create an ambiguous threshold between sidewalk, covered outdoor space and interior. Pushing back the facade allowed for a taller curtain wall which provides the interior spaces with an increased amount of direct and ambient natural light. The project was a pilot project for the City of Chicago allowing small business owners to both live and work inside a single combined live/work space. The front entrance is therefore both a business entrance and a residential front porch. The six foot interstitial space is simultaneously inviting pedestrians to enter during business hours and discouraging entrance once retail has transitioned to residential.