2021 PH Pumpkin Carving Contest



The annual PH pumpkin carving contest is here!

A time when PH architects get to reminisce on the long grueling hours in architecture school making models with an X-Acto knife in hand, realizing that architecture school did in fact prepare us for the real world: carving the best pumpkin on the block!

Check out the winning pumpkins from this year and all other honorable mentions!

Happy Halloween!

1st Place Winner - Baby Yoda

Team Members: Michael Henning, Justin Palmer

2nd Place Winner - Mummy

Team Members: Greg Klosowski, Robert Harris, Chris Chiu

3rd Place Winner - Puffer Fish

Team Members: David A. Haymes, Kathryn Katz

Honorable Mentions! (All Others)

40 Years in 40 Seconds

4400 Grove: New Mixed-Use, Mixed Income Housing Development Complete In Bronzeville

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The Grand Opening Ceremony was held on Thursday, October 1st, to celebrate the opening of 4400 Grove. The redevelopment at the corner of 45th and Cottage Grove Avenue in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood encompasses a phased transformation of an entire city block, which was left vacant since the demolition of the former Washington Park Homes public housing project in 2002. Almost 18 years later, this new development along Cottage Grove Avenue breathes vibrancy into the neighborhood. The first phase of the project, 4400 Grove, consists of two four-story mixed-use residential buildings that run along the length of South Cottage Grove Avenue with a public plaza mid-length. The pair of mixed-income apartment buildings provide 21 units reserved for Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) residents, 34 affordable units for households earning up to 60 percent of the area median income, and 29 market-rate units, ranging from one to three bedrooms. The buildings also include a combined 15,000 square feet of retail space on the first floor as well as a community plaza and a landscaped park extending to the west half of the parcel, which will include the second phase of the development with sixteen single-family townhomes surrounding the park.

Cottage Grove has long been an important north-south route of the south side, connecting Hyde Park and the University of Chicago to the Chicago Loop, and the project aimed to reflect the historical character of the brick buildings in the area while still exuding contemporary curb appeal. This is accomplished by breaking down the building facades into modular segments that suggest individual buildings. Each segment alternates between modern aesthetics, which uses darker grey brick and metal panels with minimal detailing for a sleeker look, and a more historically influenced appearance with classic red and yellow brick. These segments also utilize traditional brick techniques, such as rusticated columns and cast stone detailing similar to traditional limestone detailing. Entire sections push in and out from the building plane to further define each facade and add visual interest to the building. Different window sizes allow for different sill heights, and varied window operations and colors amplify the unique look of each segment. The resulting design gives the impression that the buildings have been built over time and organically evolved into a street wall along Cottage Grove Avenue.

In addition to providing attractive and affordable housing for the community’s growing residential population, the project spurs commercial and social activity in the neighborhood. The centrally located plaza and park not only act as amenity space for the residents but also serves as a physical link to the community by lending its space for public gatherings, events, and an extension of retail activities. The twelve street-level retail spaces are outfitted with finishes, bathrooms, drinking fountains, and lighting, which is atypical as more often, developers will leave these spaces raw. The spaces are move-in-ready on a basic level, allowing tenants to set up shop with a limited budget.

Project Team: David A. Haymes, Greg Klowsowski, Chris Chiu

Christopher House Joanne L. Cicchelli Middle School Dedication Ceremony


On March 4th, 2020, we joined our client, Christopher House Charter School, at the dedication ceremony of their new 15,300 sf addition, The JoAnne L. Cicchelli Middle School. A multi-phased design project developed and constructed over the last 10 years, PH considers the Christopher House campus in Belmont-Cragin as the cornerstone of our expanding educational design practice.

The school offers classes from early infant through 8th-grade curriculum, as well as after-school and parent education programs. With much to offer many people, the building is a true cultural anchor for the neighborhood. Its ambitious mission and modest budget translated into unique challenges for us as architects, with many stakeholders and special circumstances to consider.

Designed to enhance the Reggio Emilia philosophy that Christopher House follows, the school is a vibrant, playful, and efficient design that captures the imagination of students, providing them spatial variety and opportunity for discovery while supporting their sense of security and belonging.

The client team of Christopher House — the board, benefactors, and faculty — inspired us at every turn. Their tireless efforts and enthusiasm are what helped to drive a seemingly impossible program, into something real. We are proud to be part of the Christopher House family and to have contributed our part to their growth over the last decade.

Project Team: Jeff Renterghem, Ron Weber, Michael Henning, Heather Faircloth, Peter Evanich

The Old Colony Building: Pushing The Limits Of Design



PH Partner, Kenneth DeMuth, AIA, presented at the 50th Anniversary of CTBUH World Congress on October 31st, 2019, divulging historical details behind the inception of the Old Colony Building and its recent preservation efforts. Ken's full essay has been published in CTBUH's "First Skyscrapers Considerations of Critical Buildings and Technologies in Skyscraper History".

In 1891, several Chicago architects hastily designed 15 downtown office skyscrapers to beat a deadline for a surprise building height ordinance. Incredibly, Holabird & Roche (H&R) would design five over a single weekend, four of which were built, and three of which stand as landmarks today. Among these, the 17-story Old Colony Building (OCB) would stretch the limits of contemporary design and engineering expertise with raft foundations, lateral bracing, and height, thereby creating a template for the speculative office tower. High-rise evolution and the role played by skeletal framing is much celebrated, but less attention is given to other aspects such as soil engineering, wind bracing, component prefabrication, and the emerging role of the specialized engineering and construction techniques required to realize this evolving new archetypal form.

As a truly American invention, the modern business office tower pursued ever-increasing scale, efficiency, and innovation to become profitable and competitive in the rapidly expanding city centers. The scheme for OCB provided a footprint exceeding the lot area on the reasoning that the greater construction expense was justified by greater rents obtained. Reducing masonry weight by increasing glass areas allowed load-proportioned footings to carry a taller building, stiffened by a first-of-its-kind portal bracing system. Former bridge engineer Corydon Purdy nested Bessemer steel arches between prefabricated “Phoenix” columns, allowing the narrow 17-story structure to offer unimpeded floor layout plans while spreading overturning loads across the wide foundation mats. Repetitive, system-based structural components and innovations in masonry construction sequencing sped the construction process.