Chicago-based studio Wheeler Kearns Architects designed the Go Green Community Fresh Market in Englewood. It is the first phase of a masterplan driven by the Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN). It is in collaboration with the Resident Association of Greater Englewood (RAGE), Teamwork Englewood, and E.G. Woode to revitalize a Chicago neighborhood. The Fresh Market was one of six finalists in the 2020 Chicago Prize, recognized as a community resource that will help to develop a neighborhood long neglected by systemic disinvestment.
To create the Fresh Market, Wheeler Kearns Architects renovated a red-brick two-story 1906 building constructed into a new 6,400-square-foot program. It houses a coop-inspired fresh food market that sells locally-sourced products and healthy ready-to-eat meals prepared by Chicago-area chefs. Additionally, the Fresh Market has a small indoor dining area on the first floor along with offices and spaces for classes and community outreach on the second floor.
The building was formerly a corner store with four apartment units on the second floor. However, the building remained vacant after a fire damaged it in 2015. The decision to renovate rather than build new was intentional. It was meant to help support the restoration of the historic neighborhood. On the other hand, the design is modeled on a traditional urban corner store to best serve the local community, adding the option of fresh food.
The store has floor-to-ceiling windows in front to create a sense of connection with the community. They are displays of fresh fruits and vegetables in the window.
Inside, a skylight on the second floor brings in more natural light. Shelves are positioned along the walls with lower shelves in the center of the store to increase transparency and visibility. The store also features LED lighting that offers a soft ambiance for local artists’ work displayed on the exposed brick and accent walls.
“This building is a critical part of the story of Go Green on Racine, with every element of the design considered and intended to re-introduce this building as a significant community asset. Watching the transformation and understanding its impact on the Englewood community has been heart lifting,” said Chris-Annmarie Spencer, project lead and principal at Wheeler Kearns Architects.
Photography by Tom Harris