Orchard Willow Residence

Chicago, Illinois / United States of America


The clients sought a home that balanced an abundance of natural light and direct connections to nature with a need for privacy. Located adjacent to a schoolyard, the site affords an open southern side yard unusual to Chicago. The exposure provided opportunity to access natural light throughout the day while challenging how to achieve privacy.

A board-formed concrete wall poured just above eye level encircles the property. With the first floor set down at natural grade, the textural wall provides complete visual privacy within the garden, allowing the wooden framed interior living space to be enclosed with glass. Large sliding doors and a continuous stone floor connect the interior and exterior as a single room. Above the wooden pavilion, a narrow, copper clad volume floats on a clerestory band of windows, bringing light deep into the broad living areas beneath it. Containing two floors of private bedrooms, the copper volume is more opaque and insular than the open living space below. Within the bedrooms, deeply recessed balconies are carved out of the copper enclosure to form light courts that shade the glazing, provide privacy and direct views away from the neighboring school, to the distant Chicago skyline and sunset.

Architect of record

Jon Heinert
Wheeler Kearns Architects
343 S. Dearborn Street, Suite 200
Chicago, IL 60604, USA
Phone: 312-939-7787

General contractor

Jeff Jozwiak
Norcon Inc.
661 W. Ohio Street
Chicago, IL 60654, USA
Phone: 312-715-9200

Consultant 1

Mimi Mckay
Mckay Landscape Architecture
5215 N. Ravenswood Avenue, #306
Chicago, IL 60640, USA
Phone: 773-561-1227

Consultant 2

Jim Kirk
Enspect Engineering
8300 Mississippi Street
Merrillville, IN 46410, USA
Phone: 219-736-6002

Consultant 3

Sharlene Young
Wheeler Kearns Architects
343 S. Dearborn Street, Suite 200
Chicago, IL 60604, USA
Phone: 312-939-7787


Steve Hall
Hedrich Blessing
400 N. Peoria Street
Chicago, IL 60642, USA
Phone: 312-491-1101