What’s That Building? The Pullman Artspace Lofts | WBEZ
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What’s That Building? The Pullman Artspace Lofts

The charming streetscape of historic, red-brick homes in Pullman were built in the late 19th century for railcar baron George Pullman.

With much of the orderly row houses intact 140 years later, a walk down these streets feels like walking back in time. Though they’re different sizes and types — houses, multi-unit apartment buildings — architect Solon S. Beman designed them to fit together as one big matching set.

But one piece of Beman’s work was demolished and sat empty for decades — a row of housing along Langley Avenue south of 111th Street. The gap was filled in late 2019 with the Pullman Artspace Lofts. Along with two historic Pullman apartment buildings that flank it to the north and south, the buildings provide 38 new units of affordable housing for artists.

Here’s a look at the new homes, the first new residential development in Pullman in almost 50 years.

Live + Work

Outside, the red-brick building has mansard roofs, an arched doorway and other details that echo the originals.

Inside, the units are designed as live/work spaces, with an extra 100 to 150 square feet the artist can use as a studio.

The modest studio, one- and two-bedroom units feature concrete floors and simple galley kitchens. But they’ve also been designed to double in function as an artist studio, with high ceilings, wide doorways to transport art and tall, west-facing windows to let in natural light.

Pullman Artspace Lofts living room
Jason Marck/WBEZ

The building was also designed as a community space that features the residents’ art. There’s a 2,000-square-foot gallery space where residents will be able to mount their work in the main building, and art by residents adorn the hallway walls.

Pullman Artspace Lofts gallery
Jason Marck/WBEZ
Dee Smith, of the Pullman Arts Center, shows off the main gallery space that will soon showcase works by neighborhood artists.

One of Chicago’s most storied neighborhoods

Pullman was laid out in the 19th century as a company town for Pullman Car Company, which manufactured railroad cars through the mid-20th century.

Pullman neighborhood
Jason Marck/WBEZ
140-year-old row houses line the streets of Pullman today.

When President Barack Obama gave the neighborhood national monument status, he said the architectural sophistication of the community was unprecedented.

The Lofts are the latest piece of a concerted effort to revitalize Pullman, led by several neighborhood groups and developers, including the Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives and Pullman Arts.

A new visitors center in the company’s towering administration building is planned for 2021, just a few blocks from the Artspace development. And nearby, Big Marsh Park — formerly 278 acres of steel dumping ground — has been redeveloped into a 40-acre bike park. It will also soon have the first campground inside city limits.

Dennis Rodkin is a real estate reporter for Crain's Chicago Business and Reset’s "What's That Building?" contributor.

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