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National Building Museum Features Innovative Chicago Development

LISC’s Meghan Harte takes a look at a new exhibit at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., that considers the future of housing design, with a particular eye to affordability and meeting the changing needs of families. It features a LISC-supported project in Chicago, the award-winning La Casa, which offers affordable apartments to university students in the city’s Pilsen community.

What will it take to meet changing housing needs?

A new exhibit opening this week at the National Building Museum offers a window into the future of residential housing in America, recognizing that dramatic shifts in the country’s demographics require new solutions that are economically and environmentally sustainable.

Making Room: Housing for a Changing America opens on November 18 and features innovative housing designs, from tiny houses with just a few hundred square feet to co-housing plans, where small private homes are built as part of communal space.

LISC is helping sponsor this important exhibit because it offers new ways to address deep housing challenges. Making Room pays particular attention to the housing affordability crisis—which affects the economic outlook for millions of families in urban, rural and suburban communities alike—and it promotes the need for flexible space that connects people to their communities, regardless of their incomes, even as their families grow and change. 

One of the featured innovations is an affordable housing development for college students in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood—a lively immigrant community that is home to multi-generation families, artists, and entrepreneurs, just a few miles from the downtown business district.

Called La Casa, the development brings together young people from different universities in modern, off-campus housing that offers many of the resources they might find on campus—but allows them to stay in their community, close to their extended families. The objective was to expand affordable housing in the neighborhood, add vitality to the streetscape with a light-filled design, and support the aspirations of young people, many of whom are the first in their family to attend college.

“La Casa is making a very, very important statement that we value our young people, that we value their future, and we want to help them succeed in college and become the next generation of leaders for our community,” said Raul Raymundo, CEO of the The Resurrection Project, a local nonprofit that developed the property. LISC Chicago is proud to have supported the effort. 

The Making Room exhibit also includes a full-scale, 1000-square-foot home designed by famed Italian architect Pierluigi Colombo. It illustrates what organizers describe as a “hyper-efficient” layout that includes moveable walls and multipurpose furniture that meets the needs of underserved populations.

Making Room runs through September 16, 2018. For more, visit www.nbm.org.


Meghan Harte, LISC Chicago Executive Director
Prior to joining LISC as the executive director of LISC Chicago, Harte most recently served as deputy chief of staff for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, overseeing operations at the city’s sister agencies. Previously, Harte was a vice president of AECOM, managing its Midwest planning, economics, architecture and building engineering business. Earlier in her career, she managed resident services for the Chicago Housing Authority. Harte holds a B.S. degree from Vanderbilt University and received her JD, Law from Loyola University Chicago School of Law.