The “Tiny Office” in the Evanston Rebuilding Warehouse parking lot was built as a “tiny house” project by trainees employed by the ERW and trained in deconstruction techniques.  Submitted photos

This summer and as long as weather permits, the Evanston Rebuilding Warehouse, 2101 Dempster St., is offering free architectural consultations from 10 a.m. till noon on Saturday mornings.

Two Chicago-based licensed architects, William Huchting and Manuel Hernandez, are currently providing their services to home and apartment owners, renters, landlords, builders, and others who drop in with an architecture-related question.   Both architects have their own practices and are members of the American Institute of Architects, which has had a broader program called “Working with An Architect” for many years.  

The architects encourage visitors to bring project plans, photos, or drawings and will offer each person a 20-minute, one-on-one consultation.

A typical question might relate to the design of a particular project, or, more generally, to choosing an architect and contractor, estimating building costs, or understanding permit regulations.

The consultations take place in a tiny open-air “office” in front of the Evanston Rebuilding Warehouse parking lot.

Deconstruction differs from demolition in that materials that can be salvaged and resold are carefully removed from buildings scheduled to be torn down.  Salvageable materials usually include flooring, stair parts, moldings, windows, doors, plumbing fixtures, kitchen appliances, and cabinets. They are then sold at ERW instead of being tossed into landfills.

Local carpenter and woodworker Michael Montenegro worked with the ERW trainees to design the tiny house, incorporating reclaimed materials such as beaded board paneling, windows with divided lights, hardwood flooring, wood siding, and floor and roof joists.

Mr. Huchting says they envisioned the tiny house in front of the ERW as a “shed to be used for community engagement.”  He added that it seems like a logical extension of ERW’s work and a “good fit” and resource for the community.
Mr. Hernandez says, “Sometimes people are reluctant to ask a professional a question when they are unsure of what they are asking, or the validity of the question and the ERW consulting option allows “the architectural community to be more accessible to the bigger community. The purpose of the workshops is to guide individuals based on our knowledge regarding subjects of building codes, permitting, and really being a source for next steps.

More information and a sign-up form can be found at

Ellen Galland

Ellen Galland has had an architectural practice in Evanston since 1983. For more than 20 years, she has written articles for the RoundTable, including the column “Ask An Architect" and "The Green Column"...