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New building emerges in the Wright District: An igloo

Family builds multi-colored igloo with the help of discarded milk cartons

January 9th, 2018 2:47 PM

Dome-icile: Jasmine Wood, 14, hangs out inside the igloo she and her family made in front of their home on Superior Street. The family used milk cartons to freeze water with food coloring for building material. | ALEXA ROGALS/Staff Photographer

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

Oak Parkers got a bit of relief over the last few days with temperatures rising above freezing for the first time in weeks, but despite the warmer weather a newly constructed wintery dwelling in the heart of the Frank Lloyd Wright District is still standing strong, according to its builder.

Antony Wood, who lives in the 1000 block of Superior Street, tells Wednesday Journal that the brightly colored igloo he and his family built in their front yard could maintain its integrity into the high 40s or 50s.

That's because they used 170 bricks of ice to build the structure, which Wood estimates weighs about 500 pounds.

The igloo is lit from the inside with holiday lights, drawing the attention of neighbors and passersby in the dark winter evenings. 

Wood and his wife, Tansri, are professional architects and began working on the project with their kids a couple of years ago. They wanted to build the igloo last winter, but the temperature was too high for most of the season and the family didn't have enough milk cartons, which they used to create bricks of ice for building material, Wood said.

"We've been lucky this year because it's been the coldest bloody time in the 11 years I've lived here," Wood said.

Once the temperature dropped low enough, the family began filling the cartons with a mixture of water, paint and food coloring and placed them outside to freeze solid. Once the ice bricks were frozen, the Wood family peeled away the cartons and began assembling their glacial structure.

"It was my wife's idea," Wood said, noting that her background is designing schools and educational buildings, not igloos.

Wood, who serves as the executive director of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat and is an architecture professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology, said the idea first came about a few years ago when the family – they have a son, Joshua, and a daughter, Jasmine – was at Austin Gardens and saw someone had built several snowmen. 

They added to the snow sculptures with a hastily constructed igloo and started planning for their fabulous ice sculpture.

Wood said the structure is about 65 inches in internal diameter and large enough to fit two people relatively comfortably. 

"The only disappointment I had with it is I wanted to build it larger so we could sleep in it," he said. 

Though the structure is made out of ice, it does a good job of holding in heat. Wood said it is generally about 5 degrees warmer inside the igloo. 

Now that they've got their first ice structure under their belt what's next for the Woods? A recreation of a Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling Water or Unity Temple, perhaps? 

We'll just have to wait and hope for another frigid winter next year.

CONTACT: tim@oakpark.com

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