The KLEO Art Residences intentionally challenge norms in affordable housing construction by making natural light and quality of living the overriding priority in the project. The project represents the first time in Chicago’s history where polycarbonate panels represent the majority of the exterior envelope.

The building is one piece in a greater comprehensive strategy for reinvigorating the Washington Park community on Chicago’s South Side. The inspiration for the Art Residences project emerged from KLEO’s mission, Keep Loving Each Other, but most importantly by continuing the legacy of Kleo Y. Barrett, who was a victim of a domestic violence incident that took her life. Her name and legacy will continue to inspire the project and encourage families affected by domestic violence.

Major project design challenges were derived through numerous listening sessions with community stakeholders to understand what the Washington Park area needed to create positive change. After numerous meetings, the consensus was to develop an affordable housing complex that was specifically tailored towards servicing the needs of local artists, an up and coming profession within the area. The design team then used the opportunity to meet with local artists within the community to understand what living means to them. The common denominator in this exploration was a very benign and important response; it was to provide maximum daylight within the interior spaces for their working studios. An element that is often overlooked within affordable housing complexes.

In addition to creating comfortable living and working spaces, the artist’s conveyed to the design team that the community lacked a sufficient location for them to sell their art and suggested that spaces be integrated within the design to cover this deficiency. It was also conveyed that spaces in which the artists could typically afford more often than not, lacked life through design. It was therefore requested that the newly designed KLEO Art Residences would offer an interiority that would bring pride and vibrancy to a space in which they would not normally see within their price range.


In response of insufficient workable daylight, the design team chose instead not to remove transparent materials like glass as commonly seen in affordable housing projects, but to give tenants something extraordinary, diffused and vibrant natural daylighting via a polycarbonate façade. As a result, the KLEO art residences explore natural light, from diffused to direct to emphasize the necessity of natural light in affordable housing. The implementation has served as a catalyst for the use of new materials on low income housing projects. During daytime, the interiors literally glow with natural daylight from the polycarbonate façade, allowing for improved workable spaces for artists to complete their work within.


KLEO Art Residences includes 58 residential units. The ground level contains retail space and community rooms serving as working studios for the artists to showcase, exhibit and sell their work to the community. The artists’ spaces that face Michigan Avenue were designed with individual roll-up doors that allow artists to share their work and their wares with the community.

The design team chose to respond to the lack of vibrancy within typical affordable living spaces through color application. Colors derived from local murals were used to distinguish floor levels in the building, by using pops of color within lobbies and corridors to liven spaces that would otherwise be treated with standard finishes.

While form and mass of the building are designed to fit seamlessly within the area, the translucent façade is designed to do the opposite. This provides optimal daylighting for residents/ artists on the inside, while in the evening hours, the building literally glows and becomes a beacon within the community, eliciting pride and hope for residents within Washington Park and well beyond.

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Modern home with Exterior, Apartment Building Type, Metal Siding Material, and Glass Siding Material. KLEO Art Residences, Exterior Photo  of The KLEO Art ResidencesView Photos

KLEO Art Residences, Exterior

Modern home with Exterior, Apartment Building Type, Metal Siding Material, Glass Siding Material, Flat RoofLine, and Metal Roof Material. KLEO Art Residences, Exterior. The building literally glows and becomes a beacon within the community. Photo 2 of The KLEO Art ResidencesView Photos

KLEO Art Residences, Exterior. The building literally glows and becomes a beacon within the community.

KLEO Art Residences, interior. Main lobby area. Photo 3 of The KLEO Art Residences modern homeView Photos

KLEO Art Residences, interior. Main lobby area.

Modern home with Hallway and Carpet Floor. KLEO Art Residences, interior. Lobby area (1st floor) Photo 4 of The KLEO Art ResidencesView Photos

KLEO Art Residences, interior. Lobby area (1st floor)

KLEO Art Residences, interior. Main lobby area. Photo 5 of The KLEO Art Residences modern homeView Photos

KLEO Art Residences, interior. Main lobby area.

Modern home with Hallway and Carpet Floor. KLEO Art Residences, interior. Lobby area (3rd floor) Photo 6 of The KLEO Art ResidencesView Photos

KLEO Art Residences, interior. Lobby area (3rd floor)

Modern home with Hallway and Carpet Floor. KLEO Art Residences, interior. Lobby area (3rd floor) Photo 7 of The KLEO Art ResidencesView Photos

KLEO Art Residences, interior. Lobby area (3rd floor)

Modern home with Hallway and Carpet Floor. KLEO Art Residences, interior. Lobby area (2nd floor) Photo 8 of The KLEO Art ResidencesView Photos

KLEO Art Residences, interior. Lobby area (2nd floor)

Modern home with Hallway and Carpet Floor. KLEO Art Residences, interior. Lobby area (2nd floor) Photo 9 of The KLEO Art ResidencesView Photos

KLEO Art Residences, interior. Lobby area (2nd floor)

The community and artists’ spaces were designed with individual roll-up doors that allow artists to share their work and wares with the community. Photo 10 of The KLEO Art Residences modern homeView Photos

The community and artists’ spaces were designed with individual roll-up doors that allow artists to share their work and wares with the community.

The community and artists’ spaces were designed with individual roll-up doors that allow artists to share their work and wares with the community. Photo 11 of The KLEO Art Residences modern homeView Photos

The community and artists’ spaces were designed with individual roll-up doors that allow artists to share their work and wares with the community.

KLEO Art Residences. Interior. Photo 12 of The KLEO Art Residences modern homeView Photos

KLEO Art Residences. Interior.

KLEO Art Residences. Interior. Photo 13 of The KLEO Art Residences modern homeView Photos

KLEO Art Residences. Interior.

Modern home with Exterior, Apartment Building Type, Metal Siding Material, Glass Siding Material, Metal Roof Material, and Flat RoofLine. KLEO Art Residences, exterior. For the first time in Chicago, polycarbonate panels represent the majority of the exterior envelope. Photo 14 of The KLEO Art ResidencesView Photos

KLEO Art Residences, exterior. For the first time in Chicago, polycarbonate panels represent the majority of the exterior envelope.

Modern home with Exterior, Apartment Building Type, Glass Siding Material, Metal Siding Material, Flat RoofLine, and Metal Roof Material. KLEO Art Residences, Exterior Photo 15 of The KLEO Art ResidencesView Photos

KLEO Art Residences, Exterior

Credits

Posted By
Architect
  • JGMA
Interior Design
  • JGMA
Landscape Design
  • Site Design Group
Builder
  • JJ Duffy Construction
Photographer
  • JGMA, Mark Ballogg, Lee Bey
Year
  • 2019