Alison Glinow & Lap Chi Kwong

“In every city in the world, housing is always the first question that architecture deals with.”
Dinner Date: September 28, 2019
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In October 2019, we launched our Dinner With Designers Chicago chapter with emerging practice Kwong Von Glinow lead by Alison Glinow and Lap Chi Kwong. 

We began the evening in Edgewater with a build-phase site tour and our dinner guests were treated to an inside look at the wood frame structure of KVG’s Ardmore House, hearing firsthand from partners Alison and Lap Chi about their vision for a residential space that inverts typical living arrangements to create a lofted dining and living space above a private bedroom level. As we moved from room to room the pair shared their concept, process, and learnings from their first project acting as both Architect & Developer.

After our site tour, we removed our hard hats and carpooled to Chicago’s Old Town neighborhood for our dinner at Alison and Lap Chi’s home, which also doubles as their studio. Upon entering, we were treated to an appearance of Alison and Lap Chi’s newborn baby, Marni.

Their home was intact with the typical vernacular woodworking common to this area, giving it a warm and cozy feel. The entry hall opened up to a dining space surrounded by a library of books, tiny scale figures, and pinup boards showcasing images of different projects rendered in a light and playful style that is a defining language of their drawing style.

Adjacent to this was a room arranged like an exhibition, showcasing tables of large study models and oversized zines that displayed their projects in portfolio style. It was easy to imagine both a family dinner as well as a professional client meeting taking place seamlessly. Alison and Lap Chi walked us through the collection of physical models that showcased their ongoing research in residential architecture, as guests browsed through various pinup materials.

Grabbing second drinks, we made our way back to the library and took our seats at a colossal heirloom table for another DWD first – an elaborate hot pot feast pre-set with an assortment of colorful ingredients.

The assembled guests gave brief introductions to kick off the dinner and we turned our attention back to Alison and Lap Chi, who proceeded to share insights about their practice. From their respective upbringings and undergraduate experiences to meeting at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, they keyed us into the small yet consequential moments that define their creative and personal partnership.

We had the opportunity to witness this impressive collaborative dynamic when an appliance-induced short-circuit required some heroic extension cord routing.