Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Generic housing in old neighborhoods, Chicago Style.

Esrati has a discussion and link to a DDN article on how Dayton is going to re-invigorate their demolition program. I guess Dayton is going to follow the Detroit model and tear itself down. Probably the realistic solution.

Not something I cheer, though, given my appreciation of the older urban fabric of Dayton, which seems to be a bit of a crackpot stance, locally, as housing here is valued only if its in a "historic district". So I know people question the validity of what I do here and at Urban Ohio and ask why I bother.

Just to prove that I'm not some sort of lone nut and others are doing similar things in other cities, here is something I ran across while in Chicago.

The City Design Center of UIC did a bunch of research on a generic building type called the "greystone". These are apartment houses ("flats" they are called in Chicago), and single family houses faced in limestone (the "grey stone"), found in a belt about 4 or 5 miles from the Loop, in the neighborhoods along the boulevards.

This was published as part of "The Chicago Greystone in Historic North Lawndale" (they say hitoric, but I don’t think the neighborhood is landmarked). This would be a great book for anyone interested in urban conservation driven by vernacular architecture preservation.

Here is a street of greystones in the Logan Square neighborhood (and one modern infill building).

Then the UIC work (drawings by Sharon Haar):

The greystone belt and a neighborhood analyses of North Lawndale showing distribution.

incidentally this neighborhood was the site of that urban grocery example I gave in one of the Grocery Gap posts)

Block analyses using Sanborn maps (I suspect they are Sanborns based on the graphic conventions and lettering)

Then connecting typology, and typological variations, with urban morphology, and how they interrelated

Closing with an analyses of common elements in a greystone facade, developing a vocabulary for the typology
(so you can see what I do with old Dayton houses and commercial buildings is a bit similar).

What makes this interesting is that this is actually being used as part of an urban regeneration scheme, The Historic Chicago Greystone Institutive (TM) (yes, for some reason they trademarked the name)
The concept is borrowing on the successful Historic Chicago Bungalow Initiative, that looks at preserving and revitalizing the local style of bungalow. These are very, very common in the northwest and southwest sides of Chicago (equivalent to places like Belmont and Westwood in Dayton).

This initiative deals with "green building" issues, loans and home improvement, and even has a one day trade show to connect bungalow owners and contractors and building supply vendors (and includes how-to workshops).

The relevance for Dayton is that this approach connects historic preservation, neighborhood conservation, energy conservation, home finance, and the real estate market, creating a buzz around a very common and generic housing type. For Dayton replace bungalow with foursquares and replace greystones with those cottages or urban I-houses or doubles, and one can envision how a similar strategy could be play here.


Matthew Sauer said...

I quite like the deco-era four-units that pepper Fairview Ave and Five Oaks/Grafton Hills - maybe a mini version of the greystone program could be built around that typology?

But I doubt the city has the funds to pull down enough houses to really change the fabric, unless they concentrate on one neighborhood. And even then, in what neighborhoods could they find that many contiguous nuisance properties?

Jefferey said...

Yes, such a program could be done, but maybe focused more on property owners as those fourplexes could are usually not owner occupied (though I can see conversion possibilities...convert the ground floor into one apartment for the owner and the upper floors remain apartments..voila: a three-flat, Dayton style.

As for Dayton's demolition program, from what I read a few months ago the city is going to prioritize demolitions, taking down propertys that are next door to occupied units first.

So Bill Potes' sideyard concept might work out fine, combined with that approach.

I'd say it will be a while before the city really starts to look thinned-out, given this strategy (if this is still the strategy).