Prefab home designed by Jeffrey Sommers

Last November, a flatbed truck hauling five gigantic Lego-like structures, each weighing between 30,000 and 60,000 pounds, pulled up in front of an empty lot in West Town. They were modules for Chicago’s first green prefab house, the C3, designed by Jeffrey Sommers of Square Root Architecture + Design for clients Kathy and Michael Caisley. It had taken only four weeks for the modules to be built, at a factory in Indiana; while that was happening, Helios Design + Build took care of the foundation and other site preparations. It took one day to assemble the parts onsite, another four months to make the house move-in ready. The home, which is up for LEED Platinum status, has rooftop solar panels, grounds irrigated by rainwater, low-VOC water-based finishes on the walls, floors, and cabinets, fiberboard cladding on the exterior, and other eco-friendly components—Sommers calls it “a prototype for a house that can be built in urban centers all over the world.” A four-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath house such as this one is about $350,000, through LivingRoom Realty.

PHOTOGRAPHY: mike schwartz