Project by: Kate Startsev (10th Grade)
Project Advisor: Mark Silberberg
Student(s)’s Advisor(s): Kara Luce

I used the DiscoverDesign Competition as my Honors Project and completed the main elements of the challenge. I’ve always been interested in architecture and open space design, so I wanted to learn more about creating design solutions to real world problems. It was exciting to come in 3rd place in this national competition.

Reflection on the process:

The process of researching and designing a community market was challenging and taught me a lot about the thought process and ways to solve problems. I learned and improved my knowledge on how to make spaces useful and how to make them enjoyable enough to get people to return there.

Kate Startsev’s Community Market

2018 National DiscoverDesign Competition:
Design A Community Market for Social Good

Design a community market on a transit-oriented site in Chicago to improve access to resources and provide public gathering spaces for the Marshall Square or McKinley Park neighborhoods in Chicago.

Read more about the challenge here.


My community market design, located at 2211 W 35th Street near the 35th/Archer Station, will serve the community in the McKinley Park Neighborhood by providing a source of fresh foods, a space for local artists and muralists to display their work, activities for kids in the neighborhood, an open area for recreational activities, a gathering spot to encourage social interaction, a small stage for local musicians, entertainment, and raising awareness about community issues, a system of rainwater and solar panel collection, and a community space that can be used to organize events for charity, education, and entertainment

Collect Info

I used the Grove St. Market in Jersey City and the Union Square Market in New York as case studies. What I observed in both of these markets is that the stalls and tables were organized in clear rows, so I wanted to be sure to include that in my design. I also noticed at the Grove St. Market that there were places to sit, which I also then decided to include in my design.

Looking around the McKinley Park neighborhood and reading Google reviews of nearby stores, I noticed that while there were a good amount of sports fields, bike sharing stations, and schools, there weren’t a lot of benches, good bathrooms, stages, or good meat sources around.

Also, after researching the demographics, ages, and economics of the people of McKinley Park, I found out that the neighborhood was mostly composed of people aged 20-40 years old. However, the populations for the elderly and children were quite sizable as well. Taking this information into account, I knew it was important that the building would be easily accessible and easy to move around. Also, research showed that the community was mainly working class, so that meant that people coming from work using the Archer/35th Station nearby would want to drop by the marketplace area to pick up something after work.

Brainstorm Ideas

Around the 2211 W 35th Street lot on the McKinley Park Neighborhood, there are grocery stores, sports fields, a swimming pool, bike sharing stations, a few parks, and restaurants. However, I noticed that the area could be improved with more benches, a more casual eating area, a place that sells meat, well-maintained bathrooms, an art gallery of some sort that would support local artists, a community space that could house events, a stage for local musicians, and a place where the community could come together to discuss issues.

The climate in Chicago can get pretty hot in the summer, but there is also a lot of snow in the winter. An inside space that could be very open during the summer and sealed during the winter would best serve the climate in Chicago. Materials like steel and concrete would also be useful in both hot and cold temperatures.

Also, keeping in mind the age populations in the neighborhood, it is important to have options alternative to stairs, to have kid-friendly spaces, and to have places where adults can hang out. A community event space where art and chess classes and bingo nights can be organized would incorporate the different ages of the community, and bring people together while providing fun things to do. Another great way to bring people together and encourage social interaction are fountains. People naturally gravitate towards fountains and bodies of water, so a fountain being somewhere in the center of the lot would make the place more lively. A place that many people walk by can be decorated with murals by local artists as a way to support their work and bring awareness to them and what the artists in the local community have to offer. Another way to further incorporate the community’s artists into the marketplace is to have a stage around where people shop so people can listen to music after they get off work and while they buy fresh fruits. I also want to integrate the outdoors into my design. I think it’s important to not feel shut into a room, so having huge windows and sliding doors can help bring that element of nature into the building. Rooms that can easily transition into the outside can also help make the space more airy and fresh. Lastly, I wanted to include sustainability into the project in the form of rainwater collection and solar power.

Develop Solutions

I decided to create a very open building to house the market and community space. The North and South walls on the first floor are glass doors that roll up like a garage door to open up the area during the summer, let in fresh air, and allow people who are selling produce and meats to easily move the products from their vehicle to the tables. A portion of the East wall is also open during the summer, and has a stage that has a third of it indoors and two-thirds of it outdoors. I did this because I wanted the line between indoors and outdoors to be a bit blurred, and so you would hear the music or whatever is going on on both sides of the stage. However, the openness would present a problem during the winter or bad weather so I came up with a solution that would allow that wall to be closed. A glass pocket door is built into both adjacent walls with cutouts for the stage. It has a builtin door as well, so the building can still be accessed when the doors are closed. This solution also allows the stage to be still in use during the winter. The Western portion of the building is vertically slatted and has the option to be closed with glass pocket doors built into the slats during the winter. In this space, local food carts can have shelter while they sell food, and people can sit down at the cafe-style tables while they want to have a snack. Because the building is mostly white, steel, and glass, I wanted to bring in more color to the building. I did this through creating spaces for murals on each blank wall. Local artists would be hired to paint these murals or to create artwork for these walls. I also wanted the marketplace to be more kid-friendly, so I decided to create permanent painted games near the East entrance. These games would include hopscotch, 4 square, and a maze. While these are little additions, they make the space seem more fun and less adult-like.

The second floor consists of a community space and an outdoor roof area. I noticed that there was a lack of a community space like this in the area, so I decided to make on that would be able to house different types of events ranging from bingo nights to fundraisers to chess classes. The space can also be divided up into different sections so multiple events can happen at once. The outdoor space adjacent to the community area has tables and openness, so it is also multifunctional.

For a solution for solar power and rainwater collection, I found a technology that involves solar panels slanted towards the middle, where there is a pipe to collect rainwater. These would be placed along the whole roof.

Final Design

I believe my design does solve the design challenge successfully. My design improves access to resources through providing fresh produce, quality meats, and clean restrooms. It also provides multiple public gathering spaces through the stage, the community multipurpose space on the second floor of the building, the cafe, the fountain, and benches throughout the park. Not only does my design benefit the community through these ways, but it also makes many of these elements multifunctional and able to support the community around it. The stage allows local musicians, comedians, and actors to show their talent and be discovered, the community multipurpose space can hold classes fundraisers, and entertainment, the cafe provides a place to sell for food cart vendors, the blank walls can display artwork and murals made by local artists, the solar panel/ rainwater collectors provide power and water, and the community garden teaches local school children to collaborate.

The materials I used for my marketplace are mainly steel, concrete, and glass. I used steel and concrete because they are very strong materials, and in a space that many people use it is important to have strong and sturdy materials. Also, the snow during the winter needs to be protected against, which steel and concrete can do very well. I used a lot of glass to make the space seem more open, and bring in the outside inside.


What is your proposed outcome? How will you be able to demonstrate successful completion of this Project?

I will complete the challenge criteria.

When do you plan on meeting?
An exact time has not been determined yet, but ideally Wednesday at xblock.


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