Monday, October 09, 2006

The New Behemoths

You might have seen the article in the Chicago Tribune Magazine this weekend regarding the enormous new homes that some of Chicago's wealthiest families are building in Lincoln Park on Burling Street. And enormous is putting it lightly. They range in size to a relatively modest 3 lots to an expansive 7 lots. It's causing quite the controversy among the neighborhood and even several local architects. Critics of these behemonths say that they are not consistent with the look or scale of the neighborhood. And they don't stop there. Even many of the new single lot homes are criticized for the lack of style including massive columns above a sunken garage and fake flickering gaslights. Many of these houses are also built lot line to lot line, living little room for green space, which in it's own right is a tragedy. Not all that long ago in the East Village, Wicker Park, and Bucktown neighborhoods, developers are no longer permitted to build sunken patios in the front of their buildings because of concerns over the loss of green space.

Tearing down the old to build the new is not something that is new to Chicago, but in certain neighborhoods it certainly has taken on a new fervor. Bigger and bigger seems to be the trend, but is bigger always better? I don't think so, but I'm not building a 20,000 sq foot home either. Part of it is for me, what would I do with all that space? I would love a huge master suite with a closet of equal size, but the rest of the house would be just be a dust collector! This trend has been playing out in the suburbs for a few years now, but it seems some form of that same trend is starting to take hold in the city, for good or bad. I guess only time will tell.

What are your thoughts? Should architects and developers be required to consider the neighborhood? Should there be a limit on how many lots can be combined by one person or a green space requirement?

Photos from Bill Hogan, Chicago Tribune