Something that I find myself thinking while moving around Chicago, especially in new housing products is the lack of variety and diverse use of exterior materials. It is not because of a lack of available products, both newly developed and traditional. I think because whoever is designing these buildings or the developers who are commissioning those designs pick the easiest route, which is not to consider alternatives, but just to do what worked last time and to play it safe.To me, that is just lazy. I have no problem with being contextual in a neighborhood and, for example, putting up a building that is brick, in a neighborhood that is brick, or cladding a building in siding in a neighborhood where the house are predominately clad in the same material. The problem is that often, the new development doesn't go nearly as far in matching the care and detail of the existing neighborhood. How many times have we seen the hulking, scaleless three story plus basement house of 3 flat next to the cowering adjacent bungalows. I understand and actually sympathize with a property owner building to the limit of what zoning allows, however if some thought was put into breaking down the mass into smaller volumes, adding additional planes, adding detail.
Edgebox roof deck - Cedar cladding and deck
Stainless steel shingles are a product I discovered on the Walker Library in Minneapolis by VGAA. I liked it immediately for it's residential scale, durability and the natural variety within the color range of the surface. I chose to use it on the front facade of the building as a new wrinkle on a block of eclectic materials.
The difference between a "builder" house and a "custom" house is the care in the layout, thoughtful detailing and use of interesting materials that help the building working with the neighborhood scale. On our Edgebox project, located at 5945 N. Magnolia in Chicago, we decided to experiment with a combination of different materials, some traditional, some new. Stucco, stained cedar and stucco can be found on most streets in Chicago, and for good reason. These traditional materials are beautiful and durable, can be locally sourced and are abundant. We have chosen to use these materials not only on Edgebox, but on several other projects.
Fiber-cement board is a product I have used in several other projects, but the product we have chosen to use on the side elevation of this project is new to the market and has a very attractive line of colors and textures that requires no finishing and will retain its look for decades
For complete project information about Edgebox, go the project website at 5945magnolia.com