Soñoliento Market

Soñoliento Market - By: A Carbender

2018 National DiscoverDesign Competition:


Social, interactive, tranquil, inviting, alleviating, compelling, captivating, plausible, free, unique, vast, and rewarding. Community markets should be all of the above and more. When bare-boned, what a community market is to The National DiscoverDesign Competition committee is an economically benefiting, socializing, and bustling attractive location for all people of a culture. But couldn’t it be So Much More?! For this specific contest, I must take the time to properly research and understand various subjects presented by a community market and utilize this information to form a uniquely designed market that will positively benefit a society and bring a greater purpose to a community market.

My community market on 2012 S California Avenue, in Marshall Square, should not only be a shopping center for the neighborhood but a structured design attack on various issues presented by resident’s poor socioeconomic status, seemingly universal disconnection between minorities and their society, equity for unrepresented majority groups in a ‘backburner” community, disinterest (or at least lack of advertising) for various uses of environmentally superior travel options and so many more conflicting issues while also being of an inviting, socializing capable, economically benefiting, job offering, green, appealing design that will offer unimaginable benefits for community and the several following generations to come.

Collect Info

To create a community market, a list of things must be considered: The location of the site being chosen. The demographics of the residents of the neighborhood of the lot. The socio-economic status of the neighborhood’s residents. The problems the market will help cure. Satisfying the needs and wants of the residents during the design process. What the market will bring to the community to benefit it. The culture of the environment the market will be placed in. And so much more.

Collecting information is taking time to discover problems and using more information to solve these problems. Collecting information to design a community market is much more than research. It is an intertwining project between the development of design and more necessary research to evolve the understanding of both. Collecting information is an action that will take place during the entire process of finishing the project. Perhaps it will even take place afterward as well. So, when considering the task of discussing the “Collecting Info” section of the project, it will be quite messy. And that should be okay.

These issues previously brought up must be looked into and made a foundation for the design process. Both lots were very interesting in their own ways. To choose just one is a problem bigger than the project itself. So, as indecisive as I am, I chose to research both sites in order to come to a conclusion.

[MCKINLEY PARK] Discussing McKinley Park first, the population of the area is truly not very large. It varies between blocks, but overall, the region is spread accordingly to with little congestion. Divulging into who the residents are, the economic status of this neighborhood is below average when compared to the city of Chicago. To make it clear, by about $100k annual income. This is a result of their occupancy. The majority of the residents work low skill, low experience jobs in industries of hospitality, manufacturing, and retail. Also considering what the residents are, they are quite diverse in several ways. The age range is between 10 to 60 years old. 25 to 35 years of age being the prime demographic at 17.8% of the population. The residents are predominantly Hispanic by a 62% majority. The other two large minority groups are the Asian population of about 18% and Caucasians at 17%. The average household is married. Young and liberated, the residents possess a more than average “Family with Children” percentage by about 15% more than the city’s average. However, most residents still do not have children, highlighted by the 25 to 35-year-old majority.

Simply observing the neighborhood in Google Maps tells unmeasurable amounts of useful information. A single small school is in the area: Edward Everett Elementary School. Small businesses are overshadowed by several large business chains such as KFC, Dunkin Donuts, Target, Dollar Tree, and Walgreens. The few small businesses, which are assumed to attract little attention, is the Unique Thrift Store, Berg & Berg Law, New Archview Restaurant/Diner, and Lindy’s Chili & Gertie's Ice Cream. The residents must be religious since St. Maurice Church and South Shore Seven Day Hispanic Church are not even a quarter of a mile apart. And two parks, McKinley and Hoyne, are within a half mile radius.

What information shows is a neighborhood park lot that creates very little stress on the architect due to its abundance of leverage in several aspects: Its size, its residents, its income, its culture & diversity, its neighborhoods needs, its neighborhoods want, and much more. Obviously, the conclusion that would come across to an Architect is that McKinley Park provides little challenge compared to Marshall Square.

[MARSHALL SQUARE] Now onto Marshall Square, I have to say that I am much more interested in this site. Since it is underneath the railway, much smaller than McKinley Park’s lot, and the obstruction by a pre-existing building is challenging and fun. Information dug up for the neighborhood cannot be any more different when contrasted to McKinley. (in the context of being only one zip code southwards)

The demographics of Marshall Square are quite compelling. Very congested, population wise, there is a lot of residents in the area to consider. And each individual is far more interesting. The largest age groups of Marshall Square is the two age groups of young adults and children. Children overrun this neighborhood at an 11.6% population majority of children ages 10 to 14 years old. And to compliment this group, the young adults of 25 to 29 years old are the second largest age group at 9.53%. Taking this information, it should spike interest in the eyes of those who are critically concluding what this could mean. Why are these the two biggest age groups?

Well, investigating into other statistics, we may see that the largest demographic of the young adults are female. And not only that! but HALF of the neighborhood’s family households are SINGLE MOTHERS! So, obviously, there is a much bigger cause at play to designing this market in Marshall Square.

Like McKinley, Google Maps reveals a lot more as well. Investigating the businesses nearby, the area is pretty barren when it comes to major chains. The closest chain business is Walmart or McDonalds just about half a mile away. On the other hand, small businesses seem to be the backbone of this neighborhood. Nearby is Sonrisa Family Dental and Nino’s Tire Shop; and for food, there is Dulceria Acapulco and Guerrero’s Pizza. Not much compared to McKinley. Critically thinking, this trend could either be reinforced by design by enabling small businesses to thrive here, or combated by allowing a chain business. Either way, the neighborhood will most likely benefit. Perhaps both can be done.

[CONCLUSION] Collecting information for both lots is much more than just listing a ton of statistics. It's important to understand that you must create conclusions based on this information. And using these conclusions, you must choose the lot that would appeal to you the most based on their results. To me, I found that McKinley would have been amazingly fun and adventurous with so much space offered. But, after seeing the information, Marshall Square seems to need this market the most. So much more could be done with the design for the greater good than McKinley could ever offer. Overall, the conclusion shows that I will choose the Marshall Square lot and base my designs around small/chain business opportunities, transportation and relaxation appeal for those using the transit stations, helping relax the stress of struggling mothers, and overall the benefits of the neighborhood above all.

Brainstorm Ideas

Brainstorming for the community market was a roller coaster of confusion and conflict between trying to select a single design that I felt truly confident in and using that design to fulfill all criteria for the market (both set by the competition committee and by my own criteria from conclusions created by the collected research). Brainstorming for me was cluttered and overwhelming because of the techniques I use to collect information. I have said in the previous section that it was “messy” and that it “should be okay.” That is only because this process for brainstorming for me was to funnel this gathered information and format it into a detailed design. I completed the main chunk of my brainstorming process by creating three detailed floorplans accompanied by individual sketches of either elevation, isometric views, or anything along the sort that may benefit the floorplan by properly representing their unique attributes.

[SKETCH 1] Discussed fully in attached media In the attached media for Sketch 1 I organized the process by creating a mission for each drawing. Some of these accomplishments for this specific plan is best simplified as an indoor community market with an elegant design and fulfilling all criteria while also tackling previously discovered issues. I wanted to first attempt to tackle the design by having it blend in with its surroundings; the neighborhood. I wanted it to be calming for commuters and neighborhood consumers along with being elegant by can attempt of spinning off a modern design. This developed the exterior, but that couldn't be done without the base interior floorplan. So, placing these ideas aside, I completed a floorplan that had gone through several stages. Taking notes from the article written by Ryan Donahue (in attached media of Collecting Info) I needed to develop a circular flow, corner stores, centralized food court, and a multipurpose area. This idea of circular flow was a theme only gathered from a failed attempt in the second design to develop this plan. It organizes every available shop lot, the center row of buildings, a grass lot in the back, and a coffee shop in the front. Expressed in the attached media, I also researched more about something called “Color Psychology” and its effects on human emotions and decision making. I came to the conclusion of using green and purple along the plan to provoke the feeling of elegance and comfort. This is also the palette used for an idea of sketching a graffiti pattern in the back of the building. The reason why I did such is explained more in the media, but overall it all meant to tie together several aspects of the design and information gathered.

One thing not discussed in the attached media that I would like to explain is the name. If you may have noticed, no other sketch has a name. No other plan was intended to have one until I chose my final design. When the decision was made to create this floorplan I researched a variety of names for the market. Several were meant to be dedicated to the theme of the market and several others were meant to be named with historical context. But after researching the demographics of Marshall Square, history was out the window. The Hispanic population wouldn't appreciate the choice of such a name after understanding the past racism and segregation that took place in this neighborhood almost a century ago. So, I used this opportunity to make a name for the market that spoke to the demographic. I chose a the word Soñoliento because it is Portuguese for "sleepy." This word is meant to be understood as representation. Those who know, know. The name Soñoliento Market means something to the community and to the design of the market.

[SKETCH 2] Discussed fully in attached media In the attached media for Sketch 2 I organized the process by creating a mission for each drawing. This plan, in particular, I wanted to try and complete a design with several loose aspects and designs ideas within my mind to accomplish a mission, simply put, as a community market that emphasizes community gathering, healthy/green decision making, and utilization and effective execution of the circular flow. (utilized better within the other two plans) I started by going after the idea of a community space. To me, nothing could get more “community” than a local park. A family place that also provides jobs and shopping is an amazing idea on paper. But attacking it while sketching was a mess. The elevations were not helpful and uninspired. It was bland. Messy. However, other aspects contributed to this as well. I attempted to create other attractions such as restrooms and art. Overall, it seemed like an amazing idea but once executed it looked terrible. I just couldn't seem to match any designs with each other. This section may seem short, but there truly isn't much to talk about. This sketch was a failure. But I didn't let it go to waste. How I used this to my benefit is salvaged several aspects of this design and incorporated it into the others.

[SKETCH 3] Discussed fully in attached media In the attached media for Sketch 3 I organized the process by creating a mission for each drawing. My third sketch was the most enjoyable to design, purely because of the pure passion of the work. The mission statement for this plan was, simply put: to utilize several design aspects of United States metropolitan city’s transit-oriented developments. In itself, it may seem quite simple, but once understanding the research and time it took to idolize these fair accomplishments of such unique subway designs and bus stops, it is inspiring. Using that power, I created this floorplan. I was mostly inspired by New York subway stations. The dark green paint on tall metal structures without a finish. The natural aging of the work put in several generations ago. The urban environment and feeling it provokes. It was captivating. I took these aspects and made tall glass coverings for the sides of the site. It looked amazing in my head, on paper, and in execution. I was extremely happy with it. Please take time to view the media attached to see what I mean. I also needed to finish the criteria of offering green/healthy food for the community. I utilized these glass covers by placing crops underneath them. This wasn't a bad idea either. It may seem as if it would be strange to place crops or any kind of gardening plot into a site without any independent workers already in place wouldn't be very plausible, but doing the research it seems to show otherwise. Out in Brooklyn, New York, the Deklab Market had done the same thing. With no previous agricultural workers in the area or anyone actually interested in such, the community came together miraculously and have grown an entire fresh fruit and vegetable garden in the market over time. Marshall Square could possibly have the same effects. Especially since there are some individuals who are in the agricultural industry. I may be able to talk about the process and my ideas and inspirations for this entire project, but that would render my attached media in-depth analysis of this process useless (and it would just be a waste of both of our time). So to get to the point, this floorplan is the finished design and I am somewhat sad about that. I was extremely excited to do such, but when overviewing the utility and importance of my first sketch over this one, it simply wasn’t was the community needed. As an Architecture student, I must learn to accept that my designs are not solutions. They are designs. I sacrificed this plan for the Soñoliento Market plan not because I wanted to but because it is best for the community.

[CONCLUSION] My brainstorming process never truly came to a conclusion until the finished product went “out the door.” Throughout this project, I always came up with new ideas and solutions that couldn't simply fit in either category of Discovering Solutions or Collecting Information. All processes work together at the same time; back and forth between each other constantly. My three sketches were developed on the spot, edited over time, and represented them in unique ways once I felt comfortable with them. The three sketches I made for the Marshall Square site was funneled down to a single floorplan that best fit my definition of the project. The first sketch, the Soñoliento Market, came out as a winner. It wasn't easy to pick it either. The trials and tribulations are described throughout the attached media and within this excerpt. I loved the third sketch, but it wasn't necessary. I loved the ideas the second sketch had, but it was horribly developed. The first one I created was altered and finished for the final result of going through with this design for the rest of this project.

Develop Solutions

Several issues have found their way to the top of the rubble, discovered once researching this site, that needs clear addressing and attempts for a solution. And to solve these problems it takes an intertwined-developing journey of utilizing the brainstorming process and problem-solving assignment to properly tackle the issues. Issues presented, such as under-representation of Hispanic culture by industries within this side of the city, low-income socioeconomic issues that are presented within any community, the natural aging of the neighborhood and its structures over several decades, a lack of options for healthy dietary restaurants and stores, neglected attention given by large industry chains, and a large overwhelmed population of single mothers with several small children going unrecognized.

Large corporations, although universally hated by citizens, are incredibly helpful to a community by several aspects. The introduction of fast food or supermarket chains produces several times more jobs over time than any small business. I wanted to find a way to incorporate some kind of industry chain into the market not because it was easy to put a name on a store but because the benefits it brings are unmatched and the solution it offers is somewhat necessary. But I shouldn’t have glorified the idea so much of the “need” of introducing a chained business. Discussed within the article Big Fish, Small Sea: Big Companies in Small Towns by Christyne J. Vachon the introduction of such powerful businesses is scary to local competition and the community itself. It must be monitored and controlled for the positive effects to be brought without being undermined by the faulty negative ones. A chain that does not, overall, take over a community and local businesses. So I pondered and thought about a possible industry that would fit into this community well. And I came to the conclusion of the Starbucks Corporation. At the introduction of the market you will see this cafe bustling with commuters of all ages and cultures. It has several employees, therefore meaning the important aspect of offered employment. In a community with young adults, Starbucks would give a steady platform for the first job for those without connections or desired career paths. There shouldn't be worry over the spread of the chain for it couldn’t possibly flourish in any other environment around the area when critically thinking about the neighborhood. And of course, it would be incredibly easy to incorporate into such a small space! Espresso stands and small coffee shops parade the country in very urban areas. To include one in the market could be a perfect solution to an idea for a cafe. The community market will bring business to Starbucks and Starbucks will bring business to the community market.

With a community that is predominately Hispanic enclosed in a low-income region, it is difficult to find connections to who you are. Being lost in the urban landscape of Chicago it is seriously easy to be forgotten and left on a back burner by city planners. I wanted to attempt to change that. With my community market, the ideal worker would obviously be one from the neighborhood, or on occasion the inclusion of those who use this stop for public transportation. This invention is best understood as a decision to benefit the labor society of the neighborhood. And with that in mind, I want the market I design to be focused around themes of Hispanic culture in order to create an enjoyable atmosphere for regular citizens and a familiar atmosphere for workers. Taking inspiration from several markets across the United States, one in particular stood out to me. In San Diego, there is an interesting market called the San Diego Old Town Market largely revolving around Hispanic culture and history. A tradition used by all Hispanic markets, the Old Town Market uses colorful tarps and canopies, small pathways and corner stores, plenty of flowers and fruit growing in planters, tiled floors and sand-colored stucco walls. The Old Town Market, although using staples in Hispanic culture as a design, does use a particular marketing strategy to appeal to all cultures even if it is themed around a particular culture. I would love to incorporate all these ideas into my market, coming to the conclusion of creating a center food plaza for resting customers or those walking by.

Finally, the most important issue to tackle for the Marshall Square neighborhood to give this market an assignment as a “greater good” is the seemingly unrealistic population of single-parent mothers. Discovering the solution to this issue isn’t as simple as the other couple presented. They may have been very generic “off the top of my head” research solutions, but this couldn't be like that, for it is not at all that simple. Mothers are possibly the single most important person in anyone’s life. They are people with specific interests, and needs, and personalities, and so much more. Giving these important women in Marshall Square what they need should have a solution that could tie all ends and carefully fulfill all needs of the individual. So taking into account information gathered from Statistical Atlas, these women have common occupations of Social Services, Administrative positions, and most of all Personal Care. These three large industries could be great for the market if implemented; not only for the mothers and their community but also the economic opportunities of the market. Social Services mean Social Workers: professionals who focus on families, couples, groups, communities, and individuals wellbeing. Of course, there may not be any possible way to create an entire business for the community market but this could possibly be capitalized by oversight managing by these individuals on the community (Like an H.O.A. Society). Administrative positions are occupations that oversight specific functions. Such work is extremely similar to Social Workers but at an administrative position. So, possible this could mean the capitalization of the idea of a community organization hosted by the market. Overall this may not be implemented into the design but the flexibility of the market’s design to be able to do so is important. And the most useful industry that could be taken advantage of is Personal Care. This should be self-explanatory. Anyone may be able to ask their mothers of common, true stereotypes of middle-aged women’s interest. You should be able to at least gain information about personal care (such as medicine, hygiene, make-up, fashion, etc.) This is an entire industry on its own. So, using this information a secondary solution with several branches may be the advantage of creating the opportunity for shops to sell Personal Care products.

[CONCLUSION] So little solutions with so many problems. The process of Discovering Solutions was a process of using personal common sense and in-depth research. The intertwining of Brainstorming floorplans and Collecting Info is creating the finished product of the market quite nicely with finishing touches. Coffee shops seem to fit the design, Hispanic culture and inspiration create the design, and single mothers are who the design is for. Overall, the finished product should come out quite nicely.

Final Design

My final design may not be fancy and modern; it may not be the most beautiful representation of my ideas; it may not be perfect both visually and analytically; it may not have renders that would absolutely amaze you, but it is well developed. The considerations I have made and the choices that have been implemented are incredible in detail, and I believe the final design rendering does not give my efforts justice. However, it is a learning experience for me about the importance of the work done and the processes by which an architect goes through to produce their final design.

Throughout this project I have researched countless hours on several topics ranging from the debate of the choice of either Marshall Square or its opposing lot McKinley park to something as bizarre as Color Psychology. In every aspect I attempted to be thorough and neat. The context behind the images shown in the attached media have a greater story attached to them. All things considered about the market’s site in context, design choices and sacrifices, researched topics, transit-oriented site details, and more are what developed this design. I made an effort to create the best design FOR the community the market is set in rather than the best DESIGN.

Not much will be written for this section like the other few, because the pictures should speak for themselves. This is the ending to the story of how I developed my community market for the 2018 National DiscoverDesign Competition. This is the Soñoliento Market.


funfun4every1 5 months ago
That was undeniably tubular my dude. 101% RadicaL bro, know what I mean bro?
jabad 5 months ago
Yes I agree. U N D E N I A B L Y tubular my dude. 102% RadicaL my guy. Ya feel what I mean bro?
jabad 5 months ago
Yes I agree. U N D E N I A B L Y tubular my dude. 102% RadicaL my guy. Ya feel what I mean bro?
JustARunner 5 months ago
The design shows that with a small space anything is possible by creating a place that can be inhabited by the people of Chicago to have a good time.