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OurOur Beer Tasting + Design Presentation at the Wicker Park Inn

Ed Twohey on Jan 23, 2020

On a chilly January evening, BBA Architects hosted an engaging event at the Wicker Park Inn.  The Inn, one of our hospitality projects, is a stunning transformation in its own right.  We had a great time presenting four projects while enjoying four unique beer and food pairings. 

The focus of the evening was two-fold: DESIGN + BEER 

Demonstrating our mission of realizing inspired spaces, we discussed utilizing zoning relief for projects in the City of Chicago.  Zoning regulations may seem intimidating, but smartly navigating them can pay huge dividends and maximize the potential of the site.  We presented four projects: one in design, one in construction, and two that are completed.  Each required a unique zoning solution.  One of these projects includes the Wicker Park Inn, where we gathered for the event.  The interior design of the Wicker Park Inn was also presented by our collaborator, Allison Henry of Allison Henry Design.

The craft beer revolution has created a vast array of beer types and flavor profiles. It can be confusing for the consumer. When you want to raise your beer game, how do you know what type of beer will go best with what type of food? Our beer expert, Tony Escobedo, demystified some of the common brewing and flavor profiles. Tony presented four different beers that, when matched with the right food, will compliment the flavors of each and create a unique and satisfying experience. 

Round 1:

Beer : Schlenkerla Lager / matched with mini corn dogs & mustard. 
Schlenkerla has a lovely smokey that flavor stands up to the strong rich flavors of fried and BBQ’d meats.   

Our transformation and expansion of an existing neighborhood bed and breakfast required us to create a careful pathway to zoning approval.  This included a zoning district change as well as a zoning variation. Interestingly, both of these items were required simply to bring the existing ten-year-old business into compliance with the current code. Design elements for the reimagined rooms by Allison Henry included both French and contemporary elements creating a rich and luxurious feel. See more of the Wicker Park Inn here: Wicker Park Inn

Round 2: 

Beer: 5 Lizard Witbier (5 Rabbit) / matched with a shrimp ceviche & corn chip. 
Lizard Witbier has a light & fruity flavor that enhances seafood and citrus seafood flavors. 

For this project, we converted a 2-flat apartment building into a modern light-filled single family residence. We planned the project in two phases so that construction could start as soon as possible, as a variance adds three to four months to the schedule. We planned Phase I to be zoning compliant, while Phase II required four variances. The zoning relief allowed us to connect the house to the garage, rebuild the rear porch (the site was over the allowable floor area (FAR) and a provision exists to ask for additional FAR), and relocate the rear yard open space to on top of the garage, as the yard was already less than the required area.  Given our clients’ unique circumstances, we successfully guided them through the Chicago Zoning Board of Appeals system to obtain approval.  The relief afforded a seamless walk from the first floor, across a terrace and up to a landscaped garage roof deck. An interior passage connects the garage to the basement with a large mudroom. See additional detail for this project here: Lincoln Park Transformation on Altgeld.

Round 3: 

Beer: Falcon Dive IPA / matched with a truffle infused white cheddar Cheese & a genoa salami. 
Like most IPA beers,  Falcon Dive is transformed with strong cheese and cured meat flavors, and can make an IPA skeptic into an IPA lover. 

This project, still in design, combines two existing and dissimilar buildings into a single airy and light-filled home. We carefully crafted the design to minimize our zoning request to permit zoning administrative relief rather than a zoning variance. The difference is a limited review by the community group, the Alderman, the adjacent neighbors, and the Zoning Department for the former vs. a full on presentation at the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) for the latter.  The hurdle can be higher at the ZBA, where the applicant is required to prove hardship over predominance (meaning that your zoning ask is atypical of the majority of the buildings on your block).  A new exterior facade on both buildings, a new second floor and a new roof on the 1 ½  story cottage will create a unified facade.  Materials similar to the character of the street will allow the building to harmonize with its surroundings.  A 2-story skylit entry and stair hall will flood the house with light and allow extensive interior views across the open plan.

Round 4: 

Beer: Gulden Draak Ale / matched with Eli’s cheesecake and sliced strawberries. 
A complex beer with 10.5% alcohol content has a natural malt toffee-like sweetness with a mellow happiness and some hoppy accents. The beer pairs wonderfully with the creamy soft vanilla of Eli’s cheesecake and sliced strawberry topping. 

The home was designed to use the streetside perimeter of the corner property in order to preserve as much open yard space and privacy from the street as possible. We proposed a continuous streetwall on the long side with a 1-story mudroom connecting the garage to the house. The mudroom was located in the required rear yard setback, which triggered the requirement for a zoning variance. We garnered support by presenting the plan to the 47th Ward Alderman to verify conformance with their published zoning standards, a submission to the neighborhood group, and presentations to several adjacent neighbors. The L-shaped plan and the central location of the largely glass enclosed stair brings in light from multiple sides of nearly every room. The Arts and Crafts inspired detailing creates a familiar yet unique facade that is sympathetic to the character and scale of the neighborhood.