Growing Our Solar Panel Knowledge

Did you know that buildings consume 75% of the U.S.'s electricity according to the EIA? As we move towards April's Earth Month, we will be building up our sustainability knowledge. This is so we can be better advocates for renewable energy and be more environmentally responsible architects working to reduce our buildings' reliance on fossil fuels. 

Last week we attended a Solar Photovoltaic Training for Architects and Engineers put on by SunShot U.S. Department of Energy and Co-sponsored by the AIA Chicago and Illinois Green. If you’re wondering what Photovoltaic means, it is just a fancy word describing the method of generating electric power from solar cells that produce a direct current of electricity from sunlight alone. You may hear Solar Photovoltaic Panels referred to as PV Panels.

Solar Panels are often one of the first options that come to mind when we think about how to reduce our carbon emissions, and at this 8 hour training we delved deep into the logistics of actually installing solar panels on structures. We, as their architects, hope to eliminate our buildings’ reliance on diminishing fossil fuels by 2030: knowing how to install Solar Panels correctly is a crucial step to help us get there.

To get the full use out of solar panels, architects and engineers must work in tandem to make sure they are properly aligned so no surrounding objects block the sunlight. This training has helped us understand just how hyper-aware of our surroundings we must be when installing these panels, constantly watching out for surrounding trees, buildings, as well as any pipes or mechanical equipment on rooftops that would cast a shadow on the panels and render them useless.

In addition to reducing carbon emissions, installing solar panels (and other renewable energies) account for 93 different tax incentives in Illinois! Out of the whole country three states from the midwest have the fastest growing use of solar technology, and those are coincidentally not the sunniest of states: Minnesota, Indiana, and Michigan. If they can do it, so can we, here in Chicago. husARchitecture would love to be your partner for a greener future.




Welcome Tina!


It has been one month now that we have been working with our first full time architect, Tina Wong! She is a beautiful person who, outside of architecture, is very passionate about biking, baking bread, and going on adventures. She once camped in San Antonio, TX to help work on plaster restoration at the Alamo and to clear hiking trails in a nearby forest.

Tina received her BS in Architectural studies with a minor in environmental studies at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and her Master of Architecture from the University of Oregon where she specialized in sustainable technology.

Chyanne and Tina met on a bus on their way to Springfield, IL for AIA Prairie Grassroot Lobby Day. When they started talking, Tina says, “we discovered we had very similar paths in our architectural background and similar passions in architecture.” She is helping us continue to build our expertise as a resident Sustainability Coordinator and Project Architect.

Some values guiding her life can be summed up in this quote by Conan O’Brien: “Work hard, be kind, and amazing things will happen.”



NOMAS Symposium

Chyanne had the pleasure of representing the Women in Architecture panel for the National Organization for Minority Architecture Students (NOMAs) Design + the Future Symposium at at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign on February 10. The panel was intended to focus on the experiences of being a woman in the workplace and what growing architects can do to create more equality in architecture in the future.

 Chyanne alongside panel members Tiara Hughes, middle, works at Gensler and Angela King, right, (NOMAS advisor and Project Manager at Facilities & Services at UIUC).

Chyanne alongside panel members Tiara Hughes, middle, works at Gensler and Angela King, right, (NOMAS advisor and Project Manager at Facilities & Services at UIUC).

The conversation looked to celebrate  positive changes that have taken place in the industry such as growing numbers of women in the profession, and shared experiences earning respect in the construction field. It also took a look at some of the challenges women face such as balancing family, pay equality, and upward mobility.  Questions from the group helped men and women in the room discuss ways to better communicate.  With the #metoo movement, the conversation was able to highlight areas where women still have a lot of room to grow.

We really appreciated this opportunity to empower minority and female students to seek leadership roles and keep improving the culture for women in the workplace.

CommUNITY Station

This is the final week to catch our CommUNITY Station show in Gary, Indiana that closes on Feb. 4, featuring student work, the Decay Devils and a silent auction. During the 2017 Fall semester, we worked with architectural graduate students at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign to design a new structure around Gary’s long abandoned Union Station. Since Jan. 12, our students have shared prints, 3D models and video walk throughs illustrating ideas to transform Gary’s Union Station. In partnership, the Decay Devils also have been presenting their artistic work reflecting their mission to revive Gary.

husArchitecture facilitated the partnership between the UIUC students and the Decay Devils. Early in 2017 the Decay Devils were awarded a grant to facilitate the cleaning up of the Union Station and in the fall of that year husARchitecture brought in UIUC students to work on CommUNITY Station. The event, CommUNITY Station, is the student body of work that expands on the the Decay Devils’ grant. This work is twofold, as a way to offer the community ideas for growth and giving our students, who view issues in Gary with fresh eyes, real world experience designing for this community.

2017 Fall UIUC School of Architecture Graduate studio project overview for the revitalization of Gary, IN Union Station.

During this final week of the CommUNITY Station exhibit you will experience our students’ proposed designs. They include a health center complete with meditation gardens, arts and education center, commercial complex and a community bike hub. These designs will serve as a jumping off point for the rebuilding of the Union Station site.

 UIUC graduate student in front of Gary's Union Station, 185 Broadway, built in 1910 soon after Gary was founded. This major stop for steel mill workers during the first half of the 20th century was last used in the 1950s. Today the structure stands as a relic of the once booming steel industry.

UIUC graduate student in front of Gary's Union Station, 185 Broadway, built in 1910 soon after Gary was founded. This major stop for steel mill workers during the first half of the 20th century was last used in the 1950s. Today the structure stands as a relic of the once booming steel industry.

We are so happy to have had a chance to work with the Decay Devils, MIller Beach Historical Society, ReHabitatie, US Steel, Gary Poetry Project, Aquatorium, Ayers Reality, The City of Gary and the U of I, as these partnerships were essential to get in touch with the community in Gary. After the decline of the once giant Steel City, we can envision a future Gary through the rehabilitation of a beautiful, historic structure.

Five years and counting

This April husARchitecture turned five and I nearly missed it among the rush of permit drawings, design concepts, and programming for husART but five years definitely deserves some reflection.

I started husARchitecture in response to a need for my own creative outlet, a need to be able to chase dreams as they became reality, and as a security in the post recession era.  It sat quietly for a few years picking up a few side projects while I developed as a project architect at Holabird & Root and learned more about international business.

In 2012, husARchitecture became my life and I took off for China in hopes of starting a branch office.  I wanted to form a company that could connect America to China and support both economies, hoping to bring a contextual design style to a place that is often seen as a blank slate.  I traveled the country top to bottom and formed local partnerships.  I learned about a beautiful culture full of love and excitement for its growth and worked on designs that eclipsed the scale of an equivalent American project and contributed to massive urban projects that were beyond my desire to impose.  Upon reflection, I realized the elements of cultural incorporation and design control that were most important to me was a minor concern in China and I realized that to do the work my heart was in, I would need to focus on Chicago and my community as I understood it. 

So I returned to Chicago, and shared my vision and theory through various art installations.  Along the way growing a presence of small intimate projects that could look at how design functioned on the human scale.  I am grateful for the conversations with my clients and friends that helped me come to understand who I am as a designer and who helped me grow the means and the confidence to continue with this firm.  

It was through these experiences that I came to develop the husART Design Collective as a space for my office but as a place for exchange and idea growth and a way to share the limelight with other artists and creators.  Through the events that have been hosted here in the short time we've been open, I've developed a new sense of art, community, and engagement and I am grateful to those of you who have participated to create these experiences.

Today, I realize that one cannot design in a bubble.  It takes a  network of contributors from consultants such as engineers, accountants, and lawyers; idea contributors and soul soothers by ways of friends, mentors, and confidants, and it takes believers of clients to trust this collective to turn their initial concept into a functioning reality. I thank every person who has touched my life and has helped husARchitecture make it to five years. It has been a wild ride full of ups and downs and twists and turns with adventure around every corner.  I look forward to continuing this journey, growing and creating, bringing beauty and community to this world.

Uncovered Discussion Series

The best discussions happen over food and drink.  The Uncovered Discussion Series hosted by husART Design Collective seeks to promote focused conversations in the context of potluck around a communal dinner table.  Topics will range from arts, community, sustainability, science, business and more.  In depth topics will be in a serial format over consecutive weeks.
Heads of table are close to the issues at hand, whether expert, involved citizens, or active participants, they will give a background for the discussion and all participants are free to share their ideas, perspectives, brainstorm solutions, or just listen and enjoy. 


Our inaugural serial “Art Shaped Community” looks at relationships between growing communities within Chicago, Gary, and Detroit. We will investigate what challenges face each of these cities and how particular neighborhoods have responded and thrived. Within this conversation will be central themes of gentrification, dealing with abandoned properties, and questions of what makes healthy communities.
It is the hope that through these discussions participants can uncover ways to improve their own communities. 

February 10, 2015: Miller Beach, IN 
Cullen Daniel, President of Miller Beach Historical Society
Corey William Hagelberg, Co-founder Calumet Artist Residency
Jennifer White, Founder Rehabitate

February 17, 2015: Gary, IN 
Samuel A Love, organizer with the Central District Organizing Project (C-DOP) and Founder and president of Bureau of Peace, Love, and Art
Renee Hatcher, Human Rights Attorney

February 24, 2015: Pullman, IL
JB Daniel, Founder Mosnart
Rebecca Buchmeier, Architect and Pullman Resident

March 3, 2015: Detroit, MI 
Meegan Czop, Materials Buyer ReBuilding Exchange
Sarah Mellen, Founder The Jack and The Ace

husART Design Collective

We've recently launched our first Indiegogo campaign to crowd source some necessary items to make the husART Design Collective a reality.  It's a very humbling experience to expose our concepts and ideas in this fashion, and I really give everyone credit who's previously run campaigns.  I'd like to talk a bit more about why this campaign is important and what we hope to offer by means of a community.

The primary reason for starting a campaign of this nature aside from the sheer financial burden, is the realization that you cannot be a community of one and fundraising allows others to take part and find ownership in the project.  With a shared commitment, there is room for other ideas to influence and grow the concept of the design collective - it is not intended that this will be a singular movement of one mind, though a framework has hopefully been laid that offers flexibility and room for growth. This framework in brief is a four part approach offering co-working space with rentable conference rooms to serve as an incubator to business in our community; a community showcase of local artists; an available event space; and finally an ongoing discussion salon that cross-pollinates ideas among different disciplines and concepts. 

I think the biggest challenge any space like this faces is finding the right location.  I have a long history in Logan Square and in many ways, the lessons about community building I learned and experienced in Logan formed the basis of this idea.  From the growth the Dill Pickle Food Co-op to the community that grew a Bread and Beer night and underground dinners to the restaurant that is Cellar Door Provisions, I saw neighbors coming together in a beautiful way.  In the search for an office space, I realized I didn't want to work alone, in a vacuum and that creating a space for others to grow and influence and be a part of would be a win for all of us.  So the question becomes, why leave the support of my community and friends and try to start this down in Pilsen?

I was drawn to Pilsen for a number of reasons. The first is simple - I was priced out of Logan and I came across a beautiful sunlit storefront easily accessible to the train and expressways that could work within my planned budget.  I had become reacquainted with the neighborhood through my artist residency at the High Concept Laboratories and enjoyed the artistic discourse taking place in the area.  But the biggest reasons were personal, familial roots.  There has always been a Husar in Pilsen.  Growing up, my Aunt Jezzie lived in a gorgeous funky loft, long since acquired by Pod Majerskey.  It overlooked a garden that would smell of barbecue and baking clay from the on-site kilns. During the summer I would run through the connected court yards playing games and speaking with artists about their work.  Pilsen had a magical feeling to it that has stayed with me.  I've seen different demographics existing concurrently in this neighborhood throughout my lifetime and I would like to create a space that allows for this diversity to continue to co-exist and to thrive.

As a space, we've begun our event series with the opening of Object Reality, hosted events for "She Is", begun planning the discussion series beginning in January, and formed a partnership with Extra Medium for future artist showcases.  There are exciting things happening and we'd like you to be a part of it, but we cannot succeed without a community of support.  Please, take a moment and consider contributing to the Indiegogo campaign, and help spread the word to reach other creators in our community.