The Chicago City Council has approved plans for a new daycare at 1749 N Damen Avenue in Bucktown. Located near the intersection with W Willow Street and the famed 606 trail, the proposal will demolish four-existing multi-story commercial structures that have struggled to maintain tenants, including the former home of Mindy’s Hot Chocolate. The project is being led by Kensington Schools under a new LLC, with an undisclosed architect working on its design.
Consuming part of the block from 1741 to 1749 N Damen Avenue, the new school will occupy the majority of the 96 by 121-foot site, or 11,600 square-feet of space. Rising in its place will be a three-story gray-masonry clad structure flush with the sidewalk on Damen, in the rear off of the existing public alley will be a bike rack, loading space, and seven-vehicle parking spaces of which two will be for student drop-off. Adorned with white precast ornamentation, the school will be Kensington’s 15th in the city and serve children from six-week to five-years old according to Block Club.
The first floor will boast a large central lobby with a grand staircase illuminated from above, with four-classrooms including room for cribs and necessary support spaces as well. The floor above will have six-additional classrooms, a kitchen, and a computer/teaching room, the third floor will have three-classrooms and a large outdoor deck with a playground facing the rear. All of the 13 classrooms will feature individual restrooms, communal sinks, coat closers, and plenty of sunlight from the rows of windows fronting Damen and the side alley.
The approval allowed the rezoning of the site from M1-2 Limited Manufacturing/Business Park to that of B1-2 Neighborhood Shopping District for the 24,600 square-foot facility. The proposal has also received approval from the Wicker Park Committee and the Bucktown Community Organization, as the neighborhoods continue to change and add families and the site is near an existing park a block north. At the moment no groundbreaking or construction timelines have been revealed, neither has a demolition permit been applied for.
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Demolishing 4 existing buildings had me worried! A quick check of Google Maps and fortunately no major losses.
Wow this building is super handsome. Can they make these all over the city?
Agreed. I’d love for all of Damen to be lined with buildings like this.
Agreed that this is beautiful and great – but I dislike the parking on Damen. I guess the building quality makes up for it and they can sell the parking in the far future..
I’m counting 8 parking spaces, in the rear. The article reads a bit confusing on the parking portion, but there will be no parking on Damen, aside from street parking and potentially a loading zone for drop offs/pick-ups.
Updated the article to read a little easier, the parking will be fully in the rear of the building with a larger loading space, and two of the seven spots will be used for drop-off/pick up, though i’m sure the loading will be as well when not in use. Thanks!
This day-care really is more visually appealing than probably 99% of similarly sized residential buildings that go up in Chicago. 6-8 story versions of this project being replicated throughout the city would be leagues better than the banality we see saturating the built environment. I wish the city would adopt a variety of preapproved designs that they can sell to developers to maintain higher standards and bring about more uniformity.
As an Architect I can respect this building as it is well done, but it sets back architectural progress in the city. Further, the prototypes that the City uses for libraries, police stations, and fire stations among others destroys the initiative for individuality and expression to reflect the site and local influences not to mention the architectural legacy of Chicago.
When you champion a ‘historic’ design what are you all wanting to go back to? A time when women could not vote, no equal rights, what? How many of you use an iPhone or Android with the rotary dial feature or a crankshaft to start your car? Why cannot Architecture progress and reflect contemporary society – perhaps this is a rhetorical question – this is something that we are suffering from in Chicago versus most other cities in the States and globally where contemporary society can live and thrive alongside the historic precedents in the city.
Adopting pre-approved designs is a terrible idea. Are developers sophisticated in Chicago, no, but neither is the clientele and if the public at large rejected buying properties in banal buildings thereby forcing developers to up their development game if you will progress could be made. This project has many merits but it diminishes Architectural development in the city and the comments here on replication and a use of pre-approved designs or prototypes is a move that decapitates progress or freedom to innovate and create new Architectural expressions.
Overall it is a lost opportunity to do something original and transformative for a such a special program.
Only two spots for drop off and pick up of 13 classrooms worth of kids?
This is a good looking building and excited to see it rise, but I walk around here often can’t help but notice there’s 3+ empty lots in the near vicinity where this could possibly be built, including one on Wabansia that would arguably be a safer spot for a daycare. Not losing sleep over it, as it’s an overall win and the existing buildings are certainly not historical preservation worthy, but priority should always be vacant lots if they’re readily available…