Chicago Mansions Killing Urban Character

Architecture critic Blair Kamin bemoans the misplaced opulence of the many mansions that have popped up in classic Chicago neighborhoods over the last couple of years.

Huge mansions have crept into Chicago neighborhoods. The city can hardly complain about the increased tax revenue, but many feel that the mansions are out of place in traditional neighborhoods of single-family homes and modest apartment buildings.

"Most cities would kill to have billionaires and multi-millionaires putting down this kind of change instead of fleeing to the 'burbs. Besides raising property values and the tax base, the homes present an undeniable sign that this part of Chicago is highly desirable. It's just that they're killing off the architectural style and urban substance that once made this area so attractive."

Full Story: Exercises in isolationism



What's really the problem?

I read those articles in the Tribune. I agree with some of the criticisms of some of the designs, such as the poor detailing and 'cheap' looking Pella windows on some.

But my biggest problem is the curb-cuts for the attached garages and the subsequent driveway pits (esp. on the small sinlge lot buildings). This is a problem that, unfortunately, can't really be overcome in an equitable manner. The driveways/curb-cuts are there to meet the parking requirements and becuase many of these houses don't have alleys.

Overall, though, I really don't see what the problem is? Aren't the harshest critics really just making subjective arguments? It's like arguing that milk chocolate is superior to dark chocolate.

As for the concern about using mulitple lots to build, from a development/planning standpoint, there's really no problem. In the future, one could teardown the building(s)that use the conbination of lots and construct one house per lot again, then further on someone could re-combine, then de-separate, ad infinitum...

The critics seem to be thinking about this street only in a snaphot of 'now' rather than thinking about the evolution over time of the neighborhood.

It is still an urban neighborhood, just the new large footprint houses are, for now, reducing the dwelling unit denisty about minimally.

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