SOUTH SHORE — TnS Studio, a Black woman-led architecture firm, is moving forward with its plans for a home base in South Shore after being awarded a $90,000 grant from the city’s Neighborhood Opportunity Fund.
The studio, headed by Taylor Staten and college friend Courtney Harris, specializes in interior space planning and graphic design.
Past design projects include the layout for Roots and Vine Produce in Morgan Park, the company’s cafe planned for a storefront in Englewood and residential renovations for homeowners and investors.
The city’s grant is expected to fund most of the studio’s $150,000 project to buy and renovate the former South Shore Animal Clinic, 2320 E. 79th St.
The property needs new heating and electrical systems, design principal Staten said. Minor changes will be made to the exterior and the interior will be rearranged for office and meeting space, but the building will remain largely the same.
“I appreciate the style of the building,” Staten said. “I think there’s a lot of beautiful architecture that’s undergone these terrible renovations.”
The South Shore headquarters project is expected to be completed by the end of the year, Staten said.
TnS Studio plans to hold an architecture camp for sixth to 12th graders next summer.
The camp would give Staten, who also teaches architecture and digital design at ACE Amandla Charter School in Chicago Lawn, a chance to blend her professional experiences.
Budding architects will use software to build models, learn how to meet with clients and present a dream project to their families at the end of camp.
“Youth will be able to have this experience and truly understand what a day in the life of an architect will be like,” Staten said.
Beyond the camp plans, TnS Studio offers a mentorship program and will roll out a college scholarship application in November. “There’s a diversity problem” in architecture that Staten hopes her studio can help to address through its outreach programs, she said.
Only 0.2 percent of all licensed architects are Black women, according to Architect Magazine.
“It’s a sort of mix of feelings,” Staten said of her field’s lack of diversity. “On one hand, I’m kind of ashamed of the architecture community that this is the reality. But I’m proud because I have the opportunity to bring awareness to the South Side and inspire young Black women to want to be architects.”
Staten is grateful to have the Neighborhood Opportunity Fund support TnS Studio’s expansion plans, she said. The grant money allows her to “bring something positive” to a vacant building “around the corner” from where she grew up.
The fund “is doing an excellent job in highlighting areas of the neighborhood that really need to be rebuilt,” she said. “It’s a great way to fill these buildings in our community with some really positive things.”
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