This project undertook converting a former tavern into a live-work space for a husband-wife and their record label business. The major design objectives were to conserve and generate energy and to allow alternative technologies and a sophisticated palette of new and reclaimed materials to co-exist in architectural harmony.

A creative use of existing materials influenced the aesthetic, as well as achieved the environmental goals of the project. One recurring theme is stairways using salvaged roof and floor joists with nails removed and surfaces sanded. The terrazzo floor in the master bathroom contains aggregate of broken mirrors and shattered vinyl LP's, which were ground into bits by the clients with their blender and food processor.

The building saves energy with Energy Star appliances, natural daylighting, geothermal heating and cooling, soy spray foam insulation, and a green roof. The building also reduced waste by recycling 80% of the material removed from the original building, reclaiming structural timber material for use as architectural features, and building with recycled materials such as drywall with 99% recycled content and terrazzo flooring with recycled glass content. The building generates 50% of its total energy consumption on site with two vertical axis wind turbines and thirty rooftop photovoltaic panels.

The project team lobbied the City of Chicago to amend the Zoning Ordinance to allow the use of wind turbines in residential districts. As a result, the roof deck features vertical axis wind turbines as well as a solar array, garden, fire pit, and dining area. The project received the first LEED for Homes Gold certification in the state of Illinois in 2007, is Energy Star Rated, and received a City of Chicago Green Roof Grant. 

Typology Single-Family Residential
size 5,600 SF
Location 1825 West Wabansia, Chicago, Illinois 60622
Status Completed
Date 2007


Architect Wilkinson Blender Architecture
Client Smog Veil Records
Contractor Wikinson Blender Construction
Structural Engineer Enspect Engineering
Mechanical Engineer ETA Engineers, Inc.
Photography Doug Fogelson


  • LEED for Homes - Gold
  • Energy Star