Lyons Township junior a winner in Chicago architecture competition

Lyons Township High School junior Nick Lorenzen of La Grange was named a winner in the 39th annual Chicago Architecture Center Newhouse Architecture Competition.

Lorenzen’s design consisted of multifamily housing made of shipping containers, complete with rooftop gardens. Lorenzen has wanted to be an architect since he was very young, a news release stated.

“Architecture combines a lot of interesting things,” he stated in the release. “There is an artistic element of designing a beautiful building, and also trying to address real-world problems.”

His competition design focused on the Austin community and included a multifamily, two-story home made from shipping containers, with a large open space. It features a rooftop garden, where residents could grow and sell their own food, while helping solve Austin’s fresh food shortage. A rainwater cistern collects water from the gutters and redistributes it to maintain the plants.

Using shipping containers would save money, as well as have a positive environmental impact, as there are an estimated 500,000 unused shipping containers in ports around the world.

“When I started to draft a design for this competition, I had two main goals: to design a multifamily home that is energy independent and balances affordability with aesthetics,” Lorenzen said.

The Newhouse Competition showcases the talents of Chicago area high school students who create projects to solve real-world problems. The 2021 Newhouse Competition theme concentrated students’ efforts on projects to improve the quality of life in Chicago neighborhoods.

The competition called for student design projects for three areas: Auburn Gresham, Austin and Englewood. Students had to address challenges related to housing, mobility, community building, open space and social impact.

Lorenzen recently was interviewed by CBS News; to view the interview, go to