Indoors Meets Out in Lincoln Park
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List Price: $3.895 million
The Property: The distinguished Chicago architect Avi Lothan says he designed this Lincoln Park home for his family with his eye on the interplay between indoor and outdoor spaces.
The attention shows in such touches as the cozy courtyard off the dining room, the three decks that extend from various rooms, and the glass-railed balcony that lets occupants of the master bedroom look out over the tree-lined street without peering through a balustrade.
But those details are secondary to the way he linked indoors and out in the home’s main space. There, a two-story living room and an adjacent courtyard partner up like two halves of the same room. Although separated by a ribbon of windows, the two spaces have similar flooring and similar dimensions, so they feel twinned.
The pairing makes for easy flow between the two equally inviting realms, as you’ll see in the video, but Lothan notes that the layout also enhances the home’s sustainability: Because the expansive living room windows face east into the courtyard, they capture daylight from the gentle eastern sun instead of the hard western sun (there are no western windows on the house), and the double height of the room’s ceiling lets hot air rise out of the living area. Those features and strategically placed apertures—such as large windows on two sides of the master bedroom that allow natural cross ventilation—mean that air conditioning is hardly ever called for in the home, even during these blistering hot weeks.
Inspired by the Case Study Houses of the mid-20th century and completed in 2005, the home benefits from many deft design touches. An eye-catching string of hallway bookshelves are partly cantilevered above the main space, the living room holds a steel-wrapped fireplace, and the floor plan puts the master bedroom in its own wing of the house—but with a direct view of the three family bedrooms one flight up. “My wife can look out this window and tell you which kids have gone to bed and turned their lights off,” Lothan joked while we stood in the master bedroom.
It’s a sharp contemporary house tucked among far more traditional Lincoln Park homes from the 19th and early 20th centuries, but Lothan connected it to them in both overt and subtle ways. The former: He clad much of the exterior in red brick. The latter: Seen from the street, his pairing of a two-story and a three-story mass picks up on the older neighbors’ rhythm—and he topped the house with metal, to match other homes’ antique metal cornices. “It’s intentionally contextual,” Lothan told me.
The home is also supremely comfortable, according to Lothan’s wife, Karen. Although clearly proud of the architecture, she describes the home as “not precious, not a place where our kids can’t get rough.” Avi Lothan says his concept was all about family: Everyone got a private realm, but at the heart of the house he designed large, social spaces such as the living room and courtyard, he says, “so we would all spend time together, not off in our own little rooms.”
With their children flying the nest within the next few years, the Lothans have the home on the market, Lothan says, “so I can do another one.”
Price Points: The Lothans initially put the house on the market in 2010 (with a different agent), asking $4.95 million. The latest price cut, bringing the list price to $3.895 million—or about 78 percent of the original price—came in early July.