In a city such as Chicago where the grid dominates, the intersections of the streets are critical. It seems that everything happens at the street corner. The Ohio Street House is organized about the corner, rather than axially toward either street; capturing the energy concentrated at the intersection of the grid.
The composition of the house is not settled, like the corner of Ohio and Oakley streets, a favored gathering place for different people. The local street gangs—who regularly mark the red brick houses in the neighborhood, but not the white walls of the Ohio House—meet on this corner. The ice-cream vendor stops here every evening. The Jehovah’s Witnesses choose this corner to start their rounds on Sundays. Both the corner and the house are open to interpretation, “used” by many different people in very different ways.
The plan generates from the energy of the intersection of Ohio and Oakley Streets. At the corners of the house, the hard masonry shell cuts away, and windows expand upward and outward. At the front door the skeleton of a porch overlooks the street corner. Functions are arranged with the most public at the street corner and the most private at the opposing corner.
The living room parallels Oakley, bending to form an “L” with the dining room/kitchen which runs along Ohio Street. The two rooms are symmetrical about a diagonal axis intersecting at the corner. The front door is at the outside corner of this “L”, with the entry to the stair at the inside corner.
Photography © Barbara Karant