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The New Face of Green Design

By Mark Boyer in Miscellaneous on Mar 14, 2008 4:02PM

2008_3_14.greendesign.jpgThe New York Times Home and Garden section (yes, we sometimes read the Home & Garden section) checked in yesterday on the West Town home of two Art Institute faculty members, Frances Whitehead and James Elniski, whose West Town home is starting to turn heads. According to the article (which is accompanied with a nice slide show), the couple has approached their home like a conceptual art project, and in so doing, they've pretty much set a new standard for sustainable urban design.

We've strolled by Whitehead-Elniski home several times, and were it not for the pair of 1 kW Windside vertical-axis wind turbines popping out of the roof (as identified by GreenBean), we never would have taken notice. Between the corrugated steel siding and the green enameled brick façade, the place looks sort of like a garage that might have been designed by Rem Koolhaas, and it does its best to fit in with its surroundings. The building itself is a converted brick warehouse, and it’s equipped with a green roof and rooftop solar panels.

2008_3_14.greendesign2.jpgChicago has a reputation for green architecture and design, but few of the buildings in our fair city have gotten the sort of widespread recognition as, say, the New York's Hearst Tower. There are a couple dozen LEED certified buildings scattered around the city (including the Merchandise Mart, which currently holds the title of the world’s largest building with LEED certification). Maybe, between the Whitehead-Elniski residence, Frank and Lisa Mauceri's Bucktown home (the first home in Illinois to earn Gold LEED certification), and the forthcoming Green + Wired exhibit at the MSI, it will be residential architecture that will really raise the city’s profile as a leader in green design.