Chicago Tribune: Canopy’s Pilsen LEED Multi-generational Home

Making Room for Mom and Dad: How Chicago Homeowners are Making Multigenerational Homes Work

by Carisa Crawford Chappell

January 2, 2020

The Chicago Tribune had a feature article in the Sunday Real Estate section on multigenerational living solutions in Chicago, featuring Canopy principal Jaime Torres Carmona and the firm’s work on the multigenerational family LEED-Green home in Pilsen. See excerpt below:

Jaime Torres, founder and principal of Canopy Architecture + Design in Chicago, said that Midwest designers, developers and homeowners are soul searching to find the right balance among different generations living with one another.

He said people are adjusting their home to make it more livable for both aging grandparents and adult children looking to move back in. “It just makes sense from both a cost standpoint and a social health and wellness standpoint,” he said.

Torres is building multigenerational homes in Little Village and Pilsen. He started designing multigenerational homes in the area about six years ago after homeowners contacted him about their dilemma. They had bought a lot in Pilsen next to a park and a senior living facility and wanted their aging parents to live with them.

Torres’ solution was to build a three story, two-unit home for both generations. “It’s not a suburban McMansion,” he said. Instead, it’s a fairly modest sized home with about 1,100 square feet per floor. It has three bedrooms and two bathrooms on the first two floors, and a one-bedroom apartment on the lower garden unit.

“The idea is that you minimize the amount of vertical changes from one floor to another, so you have a really simple way to navigate it if you have a cane,” he said.

Torres, who grew up in Mexico City, said that during his childhood it was second nature to grow up around extended family like grandparents and aunts and uncles. “And now in Chicago, I think there’s a good number of folks, whether Latino or other cultures, that do the same. It’s just the human instinct of being able to grow around your family,” he said.

After eyeing his first multigenerational home design, another family requested something similar from Torres. Rosy Lawson’s maternal grandparents lived until they were 98 and 102 with family all around them. About five years ago she realized her own parents may live just as long, so she and her siblings decided they wanted their parents closer to them.

“My dad adamantly wanted to maintain a sense of independence,” she said, and that ruled out initial thoughts of renovating her own home to accommodate her parents. Instead, the family had a new structure built next to her existing home in Pilsen.

To accommodate Lawson’s needs, Torres is building a LEED-certified home with three apartments, one for the grandparents and one for other extended family and one that will be used as flexible space for kids coming home from college or to rent out through an Airbnb platform for extra income. He also carved out more green space for the entire family to enjoy the outdoors together.

Read the full article HERE!