Nexo: Samuel Carter's Community Market

Nexo: Samuel Carter's Community Market

2018 National DiscoverDesign Competition:


Design a community market on the transit-oriented site 2012 S California Ave in the Marshall Square neighborhood of Chicago. The market should trigger social good by improving access to resources and provide public gathering space. The project should ultimately bring life to an often overlooked space and stimulate the local economy in a way traditional retail stores cannot.

Collect Info

Information for the project was collected in three key phases: traditional research, an in depth site visit + analysis, and interviewing nearby residents who frequent the area. Here is the data collected during those phases that most influenced my design:

Research: -Nearby context includes two old homes, office and lots of retail. -Area known as "Mexico of the Midwest" -Working class history continued to now. -Nearby retail corridor (26th street) 2nd only to Michigan Avenue!!! $900 in gross sales!!

Site visit:

  • Right underneath train station -Backs onto an alley -Support poles dot the site

Interviewing Residents: -Store space for ladies who normally sell "elote and tamales" on corners around the neighborhood who are "out in the freezing cold for hours on end and they could definitely use the warmth and advertising". -Little gardens and rest areas with good lighting. -Clean (easy to clean)

Brainstorm Ideas

I began to come up with solutions to the circumstances I found during research. The design is minimalist. This makes it easy to clean, ensuring users are experiencing the space the way I want. I wanted the design to be affordable and implementable by the city so I included an emergency/utility exit and added certain features required by zoning codes.

The theme was serenity as well as enjoyable and local shopping so I included refined elements commonly seen in higher scale boutique shops such as a translucent cantilevered roof overhand, rustic wood and simple blue/gray brick. The design should be open, and adaptable to changes of the future. It should also showcase the voice of the community via rotating art installations.

Develop Solutions

The community market will include space for urban farming and grow lights hanging from the bottom of the train station that would facilitate their growth. This would improve fresh food resources to the community as well as stir up civic and neighborhood pride. A serenity garden would serve to provide a space for rest and reflection. A small stage would serve as a formal public gathering space and their would be art exhibition space throughout. Only local vendors would be allowed and priority would be given to those who sell popular local cuisine (such as tamales) on inhospitable street corners. This would keep money within the community and create a more closed loop economy.

Final Design

In Spanish, native tongue for many Marshall Square residents, nexo is defined as the connection point for many things. It is a most central place or thing. Nexo is a catalyst for smart growth. It was designed with community input, and is reflective of what the community wants and needs. It will be fueled by community artists, producers and civic engagement. Nexo is timeless in its approach. Simple, open spaces with room for whatever the future might hold. Urban agriculture within the site will fuel local vendors which encourages a closed loop economy. This keeps money flowing within and into the community instead of out of it. Nexo is a foundation. A jumping off point. The ultimate resource that the community will build with and prosper from.


Competition Jury 9 months ago
I really like that you conducted a site visit and texted with a community member about what type of structure would benefit the neighborhood. I would've liked to have seen a full diagram. The serenity garden is a good touch and I like seeing the development progress through your sketches.
mar.quien 8 months ago
I agree with the jury that your interaction with the site and community is an awesome way of collecting data. Seeing more color contrast and adding detail in the market place would also strengthen your design.