This past weekend, I went to Chicago with my daughters. My youngest has been accepted to Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and we went down to explore nearby neighborhoods where she may live. (Yes, I know it was St. Patrick’s Day this weekend – that certainly made Chicago a more lively destination.)
On the way down from Madison WI, we stopped in Libertyville, the northern Chicago burb where we lived when the girls were young, to visit some friends and get their expertise on Chicago neighborhoods.
Dan and Tad live a few blocks from Libertyville’s bustling main street, and on our way to lunch downtown, we passed through an area that is being redeveloped with new town homes packed in very close and creating a cozy neighborhood feeling. From these houses, a person could consider living without a car. Most services are within walking distance, including a train station that can take you to downtown Chicago in an hour. Not bad.
Just imagine our excitement when we realized that one of the houses in this rebuilt block was designed by Sarah Susanka, famed architect and author of the Not So Big House books. And what do you know? The building was having an open house right that minute.
Susanka promotes building better, not bigger. She replaces large, formal rooms with smaller, multi-purpose rooms, she focuses on comfort and character, energy efficiency and sustainability and people are beginning to listen. The houses on this block are being snapped up. It’s a good sign.
Susanka’s not so big house in Libertyville is still 2,600 feet, and I think that is still pretty big, but it’s a great step away from the McMansions that surround Libertyville and Everytown in soulless gray-brown subdivisions with names like Prairie View Estates.
Susanka has written nine books in all and has been named by Builder Magazine as one of the 30 most notable innovators in the housing industry over the past 30 years.
Even though our own house has moved past the design phase into the building phase, I came away with a great idea for the stairs to our loft from the loft ladder she put in this demo house. These grip holes really made me feel secure even climbing back down.
To see more, check out a video tour here.
Categories: Eco architecture