When a reader initially told me that a modern house conversion had been spotlighted in The Architectural Review (ar), the first thing that I thought (after viewing it) was that this dwelling was located on West Utica. I had a particular “house” in mind, but after asking around, I discovered that I was not correct in my assumption. Then, another “house” on West Utica came to mind, and I inquired about that one. Nope. Then I figured that I would ask a friend who was close to the designers Stephanie Davidson and Georg Rafailidis (Davidson Rafailidis). He replied, “It’s off of West Utica.” After Google map-searching around for a hot minute, I managed to track it down on the near West Side.
I find it fascinating that so many of these nicely-preserved brick garage-like structures still exist along West Utica – additional ones also come to mind. As for the one in question – the one featured in ar – I was not familiar with it because its tucked back behind a house or two. It’s quite a stunner too, with plenty of industrial skylights, a “big and little space,” and hidden garden sanctuary. Actually, the whole place is a hidden sanctuary, that is just now being discovered by readers of ar.
These are the types of architectural conversions that dreams are made of. This particular project is a designer’s playground – the structure itself is pretty much a box, which leaves endless possibilities when it comes to outfitting various spaces. Of course the use of varied materials adds a number of layers and dimensions, including Cor-Ten steel and a wool curtain, all of which provide warmth and design-forward talking points, while projecting patterns of natural light into the domicile.
My biggest takeaway from this project is that it would be nice to see more conversions of this nature around the city, or even some new builds… after all, this one started as a fairly simple brick box, which was ingeniously manipulated at the hands of two “out of the box” designers. I especially like that it is not “over-designed,” and allows the original structure to speak for itself.
To read more about this marvelous “and hidden” design project – a winner of the 2020 ar House awards – be sure to read the feature.