[ Research ]

School of Architecture University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

ARCH 371 - Architectural Design Studio - Fall 99

Robert I. Selby, AIA, Associate Professor of Architecture
Kathryn H. Anthony, Ph.D., Professor of Architecture

Your Place, My Place, Their Place

A Housing Environments Studio

This course is an architectural design studio with an emphasis on designing housing environments of different types for different users. Both studio faculty have conducted research to learn how people perceive and use their housing environments. We are fundamentally interested in what factors increase resident satisfaction.

To find out more about Professor Anthony see:


To find out more about Professor Selby see:


Student Projects

This studio will be conducted in association with the East St. Louis Action Research Project. For information on ESLARP see:


Our focus will be on housing in the Emerson Park neighborhood of East St. Louis. ESLARP has been working in Emerson Park for ten years providing design ideas for neighborhood redevelopment, affordable housing, a light rail station, and transit oriented development.

To find out more about Emerson Park’s Development History see:


We have received the following request from the neighborhood group, the Emerson Park Development Corp. (EPDC) to design affordable single family housing for ten families in the Emerson Park Neighborhood of East St. Louis, Illinois. The best of your houses will actually be "blitz" built in the summer of 2000. Accordingly, you will be evaluated on design criteria established by your studio faculty, by building codes, and most importantly, by Emerson Park residents. Your housing ideas need to fit the requirements of residents, they must fit in the neighborhood, they must be affordable, and they still must aspire to high quality design ideals.

You should expect to make several field trips to Emerson Park to meet with your clients, to study the site context, and to meet with representatives of the Emerson Park Development Corporation.


The Emerson Park Development Corporation, as part of the Neighborhood Faith-Based Housing Program, is writing to request that a senior or graduate level design studio develop 10 homes which will be built beginning in July of 2000.

EPDC will construct the ten homes next summer for low to very low income families. Advertisements will be placed to recruit families beginning in July 1999. The families will be screened and will complete a homeownership counseling seminar as well as a homebuyer maintenance program. Each family will also be required to establish a savings account. Most of the families are headed by single mothers with two –four children.

EPDC is trying to develop a style of housing for the neighborhood. The residents are interested in continuing the existing style most prevalent in the neighborhood at this time which is a 1920’s, prairie style design with heavy overhangs, porches, and layering that adds character to the smallest of homes. A typical lot in the Emerson Park Neighborhood is 50’-0" x 150’-0" to 190’-0". Lots can be combined to create a 65’-0" frontage as well. See enclosed map for actual lots owned by EPDC.

If the project is approved for a Fall 1999 design studio the requirements for the homes will be as follows:

not larger than 22’-0" x 24’-0",


We will be offering some "warm up" exercises to sensitize you to housing issues and housing research techniques.


Traditional Neighborhood Design

From Langdon’s A Better Place to Live,

Five Principles of Neighborhood Design (p. 217):

  1. Identifiable Neighborhood Centers & Edges
  2. ¼ mile radius, five minute walk. (Calthorpe: ten minute walk).
  3. Mixed use, including mixed housing types.
  4. Network of Interconnecting Streets (typically grid).
  5. Appropriately Located "Civic" Buildings (probably associated w/TOD).

    Suburban Town Center Development Principles (p. 220):

  1. Offices, Retail, Mixed-use near center (or TOD @ light rail).
  2. Dense New Housing, 25 DUs/A 3-4 stories, apartments above stores.
  3. Pedestrian Friendly Circulation: narrow streets, wider walks, awings, arcades, entries front streets and at back
  4. Small Landscaped Pockets of Parking Behind Stores, No Large Visible Parking Lots at Street Edges.
  5. Parks, Open Space with Links to Restaurants, Galleries, etc.
  6. Public Transportation

Elements for Better Communities (p. 236.):

  1. Generously Connected Network of Streets and Walks.
  2. Streets are Public Spaces Enclosed by Building Fronts and Vegetation
  3. Houses with Porches, Entrances Face Street.
  4. Garages at Rear
  5. Mixed Size, Price, Types of Housing (Mixed Ages and Incomes).
  6. Pedestrian Access to Parks, Stores, Services, Public Gathering Spaces.

Fifteen Ways to Fix the Suburbs

(from Newsweek, May 15, 1995.)

  1. Give up big lawns
  2. Bring back the corner store
  3. Make the streets skinny (26’)
  4. Drop the Cul-de-sac
  5. Draw boundaries for urban growth
  6. Hide the garage
  7. Plant trees curbside
  8. Mix housing types
  9. Put new life into old malls
  10. Plan for mass transit
  11. Link work to home
  12. Make a Town Center
  13. Shrink parking lots
  14. Turn down the (intensity of street) lights
  15. Think green


References on Housing and Neighborhood Planning

Bacon, Edmund N. Design of Cities. New York: Viking Penguine, 1976. (A father of city planning and the father of Kevin Bacon, film actor.)

Calthorpe, Peter. The Next American Metropolis. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1993.

Chermayeff, Serge and Christopher Alexander. Community and Privacy. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co., 1963. (An important early work on zoning for privacy, a critical environment/behavior issue in housing.)

Cooper-Marcus, Clare and Wendy Sarkissian. Housing as if People Mattered. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986. (Focuses on multi-family housing, but many of the environment/behavior issues translate to single family and duplex housing.)

Hayden, Dolores. Redesigning the American Dream: The Future of Housing, Work, and Family Life. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1984.

Jones, Tom et al. (Eds.) Good Neighbors: Affordable Family Housing. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1995. (A good reference for discovering who lives in affordable family housing, factors influencing affordable family housing design, and useful design guidelines.)

Katz, Peter. The New Urbanism: Toward an Architecture of Community. San Francisco: McGraw-Hill, 1994. (An extremely important reference on neo-traditional design.)

Kidder, Tracy. House. New York: Avon Books, 1985. (Reads like a novel. Describes an actual history of design and building a new house. Maybe put this on your summer reading list.)

Langdon, Philip. A Better Place to Live. New York: HarperCollins, 1995. (Also an important reference on new urbanism.)

Lynch, Kevin and Gary Hack. Site Planning. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1984. (The classic "bible" of site planning, community planning.)

Moore, Charles, Gerald Allen, Donlyn Lyndon. The Place of Houses. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1987.

Newman, Oscar. Defensible Space. New York: Collier Books, 1973.

Olgyay, Victor. Design with Climate. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1963. (The "bible" of "bioclimatic" design.)

Porterfield, Gerald A. and Kenneth B. Hall, Jr. A Concise Guide to Community Planning. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1995. (A good "pattern book" for community planning ideas.)

Wentling, James. Designing a Place Called Home: Reordering the Suburbs. New York: Chapman & Hall, 1995 (An excellent book of prototypes, good graphics with well reasoned text.)

Wright, Rodney, Sydney Wright, Bob Selby, Larry Dieckmann. The Hawkweed Passive Solar House Book. Chicago: Rand McNally, 1980.