Gallery: Tower House in Chicago Raises the Bar for Small House Design


This little house in Chicago was designed to offer big views while maintaining a high degree of energy efficiency throughout the year. The project takes all the living spaces, stacks them up, and caps the home off with a sweet rooftop deck. Architect Rick Phillips designed the home for himself with a clean modernist line in mind. Wrapped in a steel frame on an incredibly small .038 acre site, the Tower House proves how much living you can get from a modest footprint.

The cozy 1,152 square-foot home tucks parking underneath and provides access via a 10 x 10 stairway chase adjacent to the home’s steel girded box form. The second floor makes up the bedrooms, and the third is the living space with a European-inspired kitchen. The rooftop deck completes the home and it has a retractable sunscreen to help cool the deck and interior on a hot afternoon.

The stack effect and awning windows facilitate natural ventilation, providing a cooling breeze. A glass wall on the third floor projects the space out, affording a view of the city and letting sunlight warm the home in the winter. The overall simplicity in form and function serves to enhances the home with comfortable, user-friendly spaces and a killer view, resulting in a slew of awards for the project.

+ Fredrick Phillips and Associates


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  1. jonzed October 13, 2010 at 9:49 am


    Check the floorplans, the concrete block tower adjacent to the red external staircase houses an internal one. This is no different than countless homes here in Chicago that have both external terracing and stairs as well as an internal one.

    Awards, justly deserved.

  2. Mystech October 12, 2010 at 9:04 pm

    Uhm… an totally outdoor stairwell in Chicago? Yeah, that’s practical. Another case of architects giving each other awards instead of designing housing that actually serves real people in the real world. I get it, you’re an artist. Can someone point me to a Draftsman so I can get something realistic built? :-)

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